In their sensitive field of work, the police are confronted daily with human rights issues. As an institution, the police are required to make an active contribution towards protecting human rights and dignity. This is a chance for particularly well-qualified supporters of adult education from outside the police force to play a part in teaching the police about human rights.
Performing a necessary function in society as a core element of the state monopoly on the use of force, it is the daily job of police officers to implement the protection of human rights. The international human rights agreements on the respect for and protection and guarantee of human rights, which have been ratified by Germany, are at the centre of police work. The police also have to protect human rights from violation by others. The police can only correctly fulfil these tasks if human rights education has a clear presence in basic and further police training structures and, if policemen and women have the chance to or are required to debate human rights issues in a radically open manner. Human rights education entails learning about, through and for human rights: it focuses on transferring knowledge and shaping values and negotiation skills, and thus has a dual function of legal and moral/ethical education.
During police training it must be ensured that the topic of police and human rights is debated in depth and in the case of further police training, content relevant to human rights should be touched upon regularly. According to Barbara Lochbihler (2005), Secretary-General of the German branch of Amnesty International (AI), there needs to be feedback from practical work and theory regarding the protection of human rights. As well as further training measures within the police force, outside experts and trainers are brought in for courses on human rights issues. The external pool of expertise, made up of "outside" mediators and lecturers who are supporters of adult education from the German organisation ‘AKSB´ (Federation of Catholic-Social Formation Centres in Germany), already supports the police and contributes to the success of human rights education programmes.
It is however to be questioned whether the purely curriculum-based approach to human rights within the police force in reality qualitatively and absolutely corresponds to the German Federal Government´s 7th report on human rights policy in the police force (German Federal Foreign Office, 2005). It is stated in this report that: "Human rights education is an integral part of training for a police service career, as well as in the education establishments and service positions of the individual police forces on a federal or state level." As an institution the police have recognised that they have difficulty in some areas in guaranteeing that officers' behaviour during their everyday work will be based on human rights and is working on tackling this issue. This is coming about not only due to the recent anchoring of human rights education in police training and further training qualifications, but also because more and more police service posts are developing new models for the service, which entail human rights protection as a central element.
Model projects by police training institutions in conjunction with members of the civil society have increased knowledge on the professional implementation of various political education methods including competence and behavioural training, as well as bringing forward the promotion of cooperative relationships and integration within the police in a trusting manner. Human rights education is also part of training and further training in security forces in other European countries. Since 1997 the Council of Europe has been running the programme "Policing and Human Rights", which is being carried out in close cooperation with police officers from the EU member states. The learning and teaching materials used within the programme have been elaborated, seminars conducted and experiences documented in a handbook entitled, "Is your Police Service a Human Rights Service?". Amnesty International is the largest human rights organisation in Germany, providing support to basic and further police training in matters of human rights. Police officers, scientists and other civil society organisations are working together within the framework of an AI working group, in Germany and abroad, in order to promote the police profession as a model "human rights profession".
(InfoNet - Stefan Baumeister)