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Confronting a Phenomenon of Impunity and Denial: Contemporary European Trends in Dealing with Allegations of Ill-Treatment by Law Enforcement Officials (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 339-352, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-2079

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
14 pages

This paper develops an argument for the civilian oversight of the resolution of complaints against the police for the abusive treatment of individuals.


In developing its argument, the paper draws on the findings presented in "Civilian Oversights of Police, Lessons for Slovenia," based in a project operated by Amnesty International Slovenia. This project focused on mechanisms for addressing complaints against the police. The part of the report that considers complaint mechanisms includes evaluation of the existing complaints system and short-term and long-term recommendations for improvement based on professional and legal standards as well as international experiences. The report indicates that the Slovenian state has failed to comply with international standards in ensuring accountability of police officers who abuse those in their custody. Although such abuse by police is not widespread in Slovenia, the problem is an inadequate response by the state when such abuse does occur. Various studies of police agencies' and governments' mechanisms for and commitment to thorough and objective investigations of complaints against police show a privileged relationship between the police and government agencies in resistance to developing and enforcing mechanisms of accountability. For this reason, civilian oversight of complaints against police is needed. Although there are a number of models of civilian oversight of police complaints, as profiled in this paper, the authors advise that the effectiveness of such a body requires that it have the authority to recommend disciplinary measures and even participate in assigning disciplinary measures against indicted officers. 39 references

Date Published: September 1, 2004