As activists, it is worth learning about these basic international rights documents. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is particularly useful and relevant to activists in Australia.
Police in Australia commonly use arbitrary arrests and detention, special bail conditions to deny our right to peaceful assembly and other actions which could arguably contravene sections of the ICCPR. Activists who are familiar with this document and able to refer to it when confronting police abuse of power can use it to deter individual police officers, confront commanding officers and highlight these abuses in the media.
Human Rights Observer Teams and Legal Support Teams can use the ICCPR as part of their mandate, in activist legal briefings and on the ground at protests, highlighting abuses as they occur. The effect of using international human rights as deterrence to state violence and abuse will always be hard to determine, but combined with:
- Legal or Human Rights Observer Teams,
- effective legal and civil action,
- complaints against the police,
- activist legal support, and
- the courage of individual activists,
can form a part of the ‘web of constraint' that we can form to deter police violence and abuse.