Change in law ‘will increase killings by police’ (4.8.2011)
CAPE TOWN — High levels of police shootings will be made worse by proposed changes in the law dealing with the use of lethal force, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) warned yesterday.
Late last year, amendments to section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act were tabled in Parliament following numerous public statements that the police needed more powers to deal with increasingly violent criminals.
The CSVR said in a statement that it had made a submission to Parliament’s justice committee that calls for the use of lethal force by police to be based on the "protection of life" principle.
"The CSVR submission expresses a concern that the bill providing for amendment of section 49 provides for an expansion of police powers to use lethal force. Killings by police are currently at high levels in SA and it may be anticipated that, if the bill is passed in its current form, this will intensify the problem of excessive force.
"The CSVR submission also argues that expanding police powers to use lethal force will not lead to improvements in police safety and will rather reinforce this problem," the statement said.
"If policing itself is not based on valuing and protecting human life, this feeds into the overall problem of lack of value for human life … Basing the use of deadly force on clear ethical principles also has profound internal benefits for police agencies, providing moral reassurance to police officers involved in the use of deadly force, as well as feeding into feelings of pride in the policing profession and esprit de corps."