David Jada is a Sudanese youth leader in Melbourne, Australia. Relations with the Victoria Police are sometimes tense. Members of the police have been accused of “overpolicing” Sudanese youth, and young people in David’s community, many of them recent immigrants, are hesitant about turning to the police to resolve disputes. How can human rights education help improve relations between the police and the community?
David has become involved in a youth leadership training run through the Victoria Police’s Human Rights Project, established in 2006 after the passage of a new human rights law, the Victorian Charter on Human Rights and Responsibilities. Through the Project, all 14,000 Victoria Police employees receive training on human rights in the context of policing. They focus on areas such as improving relationships with the community, respecting suspects’ rights, and articulating values of respect and dignity. Evidence suggests that these efforts are having an impact: complaints about police behaviour have decreased by 30%.
“Wherever somebody has done human rights education there is less angst when they are dealing with the community,” explains Mmaskepe Sejoe, Human Rights Unit Manager for the Victoria Police. David agrees that human rights education has made a difference. He no longer sees police officers as just a uniform. When officers step out of uniform and work with the community, they become “just a normal person like you and me.”
To find out more about the impact of human rights education and training on the Victoria Police, view this segment this segment of A Path to Dignity: The Power of Human Rights Education or watch the entire film at www.path-to-dignity.org to learn more. HREA produced this film in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.