Pakistan: Strengthening law enforcement capacities in Balochistan

In a landmark initiative aimed at bolstering law enforcement capacities in the conflict-affected province of Balochistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Pakistan and the University of Balochistan in Quetta partnered to conduct a five-day training session – "Professional Policing Under International Standards of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law". Held from 26 February to 1 March at University Law College Quetta, Balochistan, the session brought together 23 mid-ranking law enforcement officers from across the province, representing various agencies including the police and Levies Force.

The initiative is critical because of the province's security challenges. Balochistan's diverse ethnic and tribal composition, coupled with its rugged geographic terrain, underscores the need for training programmes to ensure officers understand and respect the rights of all communities while navigating varied landscapes. Compliance with international obligations and fostering trust through community-oriented policing are paramount, making initiatives that equip law enforcement officers with the necessary skills and knowledge essential for upholding the rule of law, promoting accountability, and respecting human rights in the province.

A group photo of participants and ICRC staff

The primary objective of the training was to provide participants with a comprehensive understanding of the humanitarian challenges associated with the use of force by law enforcement agencies. Through interactive sessions and practical simulations, the sessions delved into various aspects of professional policing, including the appropriate use of force, arrest and detention procedures, and addressing sexual and gender-based violence. Participants were provided with resources such as a pamphlet describing the ICRC's work with the police and other civil law enforcement agencies, and guidelines on international rules and standards for policing.

Many participants expressed a desire for similar sessions to be conducted in every district of Balochistan, extending the reach of this crucial capacity-building initiative. Additionally, there were requests for specialized sessions tailored specifically for prison officers, recognizing the unique challenges they face in their line of work.

The pilot initiative has laid the groundwork for future partnerships and capacity-building efforts in the region, ensuring that law enforcement agencies are better prepared to fulfil their vital role in upholding the rule of law and protecting human rights.