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We Are Here to Serve You! Public Security, Police Reform and Human Rights Implementation in Costa Rica

By Q.A.M. Eijkman


This empirical study discusses how the police of a non-transitional society in Latin America responded to the implementation of human rights? On the basis of qualitative and quantitative data that was collected during fieldwork periods between 2003 and 2006, it evaluates the effect of police human rights strategies upon the Costa Rican national police system and urban police units of the Public Force in San José. Thereby exploring whether the implementation of formal human rights law relates to change in the social systems in which law enforcement officials operate. As a result of police reform that was implemented in the 1990's and early in the 2000's, Costa Rican police officers are increasingly stimulated to comply with human rights. Yet they also resist the kind of change they generate. The paradoxes of Costa Rican public security are that despite widespread police reform, fundamental characteristics of the pre-1994 police system, such as its fragmented organisation, the strong civil-political control, the corruption, the dependency upon international police assistance, the lack of police professionalism and resources, persists. Furthermore, despite relatively low crime and violence rates, political and socio-economic stability and not having an army, the development of public security and policing in Costa Rica has been similar to its neighbouring countries. In total there are nine chapters in the book. The introduction is followed by a theoretical chapter, two contextual chapters, four empirical chapters and a final reflective chapter. By reviewing the literature, key concepts of the book are introduced in chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 provide the socio-political and institutional background for the analysis. The effect of implementing human rights within the Costa Rican police is considered in chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8. Hence, on the basis of key police human rights themes, several case studies of police human rights strategies. The themes these case studies illustrate are; police preparation (selection and training), strengthening law enforcement, police accountability and community policing. Each chapter discusses the implementation of the police human rights strategies within the national police system and urban police units. In the last chapter the preceding analysis is reflected upon

Topics: Rechtsgeleerdheid, Human Rights Implementation, Police Human Rights Strategies, Public Security, Police Reform, Costa Rica, Latin America, Transitional Society, Police System, Professional Police Officers, Human Rights Training, Accountability, Community Policing, Police Legal Assistance, Compliance, Social Fields
Year: 2007
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