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Who Polices the Police?

The events of 2020—from the death of George Floyd at the hands of an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department, to the systemic torture of protesters in Belarus, to the deaths of individuals detained during lockdowns in India and Kenya—provide stark reminders that the state’s use of force, if left unchecked, can easily turn to brutality. While governments rely on police and other law enforcement agents to maintain order and investigate crimes, the question of who will investigate crimes allegedly committed by the police themselves remains a critical human rights issue.

Who Polices the Police? The Role of Independent Agencies in Criminal Investigations of State Agents explores the efforts of 15 independent investigative agencies and prosecutorial departments in South and North America, Africa, and Eastern and Western Europe to investigate and prosecute crimes including death, serious injury, torture, sexual assault, and enforced disappearances allegedly committed by police. The publication includes recommendations for improving the independence, efficacy, and transparency of these kinds of departments and agencies.

In this conversation, Wamaitha Kimani, Pedro Abramovay, and Yuriy Bielousov offer insight from their regions on successes and challenges in investigating police crimes, and particularly about the roles of victims, state agencies, and NGOs in gaining accountability for these crimes. Ian Scott, co-author of Who Polices the Police? will share insights from his own practice and from the global study, and co-author Masha Lisitsyna will moderate the discussion.

Speakers

  • Pedro Abramovay

    Speaker

    Pedro Abramovay is director of the Latin America Program and regional director of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Open Society Foundations.

  • Yuriy Bielousov

    Speaker

    Yuriy Bielousov is head of department in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine.

  • Wamaitha Kimani

    Speaker

    Wamaitha Kimani is a lawyer with International Justice Mission in Kenya.

  • Masha Lisitsyna

    Moderator

    Masha Lisitsyna, senior managing legal officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, is co-author of Who Polices the Police?

  • Ian Scott

    Speaker

    Ian Scott, a lawyer from Ontario and former director of the province's Special Investigations Unit, is co-author of Who Polices the Police?

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