The use of force in law enforcement operations

23 September 2015

States often face situations in which their officials have to use force to maintain or restore public security, law and order in armed conflicts or situations of violence that do not meet the threshold of applicability of international humanitarian law (IHL). Force in law enforcement operations can be used by persons who exercise State powers, including in particular police and military forces; such use of force is mainly governed by international human rights law and domestic law. The use of force in law enforcement operations has to be strictly regulated by States. Notably, States must ensure that national legislation is brought into conformity with their international obligations and sanction their officials if they have used force in an excessive or otherwise arbitrary way.

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