External resources relating to Blurring the lines between the police and the military

For the past week, our social media and television screens have been dominated by images of police officers in head-to-toe body armor wielding batons, pepper-ball guns, riot shields, and teargas against mostly peaceful protesters. Many Americans are now more certain than ever that we need to “demilitarize” our police.

A police operation in a Rio favela has left at least eight people dead amid allegations that some of the victims were innocent residents executed in a revenge mission after a police officer was killed there this week. Police said they were attacked by drug gangsters.

The bloody operation in the Rocinha favela, located near postcard beaches like Leblon, came six months after the army briefly occupied the favela following a week of gun battles between rival drug gangs, and five weeks after president Michel Temer put the military in charge of Rio security.

The Nigerian military has said its involvement in routine police functions in no fewer than 32 states across the federation is becoming inimical to their operations saying, the trend is overstretching its officers and men adversely.


Brazilian president Michel Temer has signed a decree putting the military in charge of security in Rio de Janeiro, following a rise in street crime and drug gang violence.

Massed robberies and gunfights during carnival, followed by a storm that killed four and caused chaos, have heightened a sense that the city is slipping out of control.

“I am taking this extreme measure because the circumstances demand it,” Temer said after signing the decree on Friday. “Enough.”

The army has operated in Rio during the last year and did so during the Olympics and the World Cup.

Proposed legislation in Mexico that would enshrine the role of the armed forces in law enforcement is deeply worrying, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Tuesday.

“I fully recognize that Mexico faces a huge security challenge, given the violence and fear sown by powerful, organized crime groups. But more than a decade after the armed forces were deployed in the so-called war on drugs, violence has not abated and many human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances, continue to be committed by various State and non-State actors,” said Zeid.

The Honduran government has suspended constitutional rights to give the army and police more powers and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew to contain unrest triggered by a contested election, a senior government official said on Friday...

US security firm Academi, formerly called Blackwater, has received at least five different requests for help, including one from Federal Protective Services, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

“We’ve been invited to bid armed and unarmed security of fuel and water, but have not received responses,” said Paul Donahue, CEO of Constellis, Academi’s parent company.

“The top two concerns as reported to us are the need for security of fuel (for gas stations and for generators so businesses can operate), and for humanitarian support, i.e. water distribution.”

It’s the morning of Oct. 7 and a man stops traffic on Antonsanti Street in Santurce, behind the Ciudadela building. He is wearing a helmet, sunglasses, facemask, a vest with ammunition, gloves, plastic straps used for arrests, boots, camouflaged pants with knee pads, a knife and gun. There is a machine gun in his hand. He has no plaque or ID.

...experience shows that this mode of policing and cracking down on sources of dissent, is gaining popularity across the western world. We shall not go here into the arguments for or against Catalonian independence. Following the Spanish police’s actions, that would in fact be besides the point, as it abandons the old principle of “policing by consent” instead “policing by domination”. The state’s “monopoly of violence” transforms into the ability to enforce political lines against opposition groups. At its root we find austerity and growing inequality, and the de facto militarisation of the police.

Catalonia’s referendum on independence was marred by dramatic scenes of violence on Sunday as Spanish police and Civil Guards burst into polling stations to try to prevent the vote taking place. Initial reports said 38 would-be voters were injured in the ensuing clashes, but by early evening figures were far higher. The Catalan government health department reported over 840 people had needed various degrees of medical attention, whilst Spain’s Ministry of the Interior said 12 police officers had been hurt.

Private firms may be given new powers to arrest people in a controversial move that has raised alarm.

The proposals would allow, for the first time, staff from companies such as G4S to arrest members of the public for failing to pay fines imposed by the courts.

The plans would see HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) privatising part of its compliance and enforcement operations in a deal worth £290million.

The world was stunned when rifle-toting police officers in masks and body armour rolled up in Ferguson, Missouri, in armoured vehicles, to stop the 2014 street protests over the police shooting of black teenager Michael Brown.

Following the public backlash, then-president Obama signed an executive order in 2015 limiting police access to equipment that belonged "on the battlefield".

Fast forward two years to Donald Trump. This week the US President promised to make it legal again for surplus military equipment, including grenade launchers and tanks, to be passed on to law enforcement agencies.

In two separate crimes, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian civilians, south and center of the West Bank. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns these two crimes, which prove that Israeli forces continue to commit crimes against Palestinians in disregard for their lives. PCHR calls upon the international community to take immediate action in order to put an end to the Israeli crimes.

Local human rights defenders in Yapen Island have reported that a special police force unit under command of Yapen District Police allegedly executed the head of the local armed independence group Maikel Marani (28 years) in the early morning hours of 27th March 2017 at Kontinuai Village, Angkaisera District, Yapen Islands Regency.

This briefing updates the July 2016 report ‘Border Wars: the arms dealers profiting from Europe’s refugee tragedy’ . It shows that the European policy response to the refugee tragedy continues to provide a booming border security market for Europe’s arms and security firms, some of whom are involved in selling arms to the Middle East and North Africa and all of whom encourage European policies focused on keeping refugees out. It’s a win-win for the security corporations, but the cost is a deadly toll for migrants forced into ever more dangerous routes as they flee wars, conflict and oppression.

I crawl out of the back of the pickup with my rifle in hand. “Keep your weapons nice and tight,” Captain Pain orders. I am traveling light. Unlike the others, I don’t view southern Arizona as a war zone, so I didn’t put steel plates in my chest rig. Next to everyone else’s commando-style AR-15s, my Ruger Mini-14 with a wood stock is slightly out of place. But everything else is square—I’m wearing a MultiCam uniform, desert tan combat boots, and a radio on my shoulder. I fit in just fine.

Donald Trump has pledged to build a ‘beautiful wall’ – but America’s frontier with Mexico is already aggressively defended by the drones and fences of the US border patrol. It’s a strategy that is causing ever more migrants to die in hostile terrain.

Turkey's Interior Ministry will oversee all future appoints and promotions of the country's internal security force instead of the military, Interior Minister Efkan Ala announced on Friday...

This image shows South American state-owned companies that produce law enforcement equipment, providing information on the goods they produce, transfers, commercial alliances and promotional activity.  Company ownership provides states with additional control over the manufacture and trade of law enforcement equipment, but also comes with human rights obligations.

More than two years since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) staged a coup in Thailand, the military regime continues to justify its grip on power by running the systematic militarisation of law and the judicial process against its critics, political dissidents and ordinary citizens, according to a recent report by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. In doing so, the military has created its own versions of law and manipulated the entire justice process, depriving civilians of their rights to fair trial and violating their rights to freedom of expression...

Who Profits Research Center and the Coalition of Women for Peace have joined together to publish this up-to-date position paper on Palestinian women’s struggle against the Israeli control of population, manifested in the checkpoint industry. The following paper sheds light on both government and corporate practices and their repercussions on the ground. This will also be reflected through recent testimonies of Palestinian women confronting checkpoints on a day-to-day basis.

While many Civil Society Organizations have been addressing the political context that governs women’s lives under occupation, the economic factors that engineer the political system and perpetuate the power relations at hand are still in need of greater attention. The Israeli checkpoints, as military structures, have been a symbol of the Israeli control of the Palestinian population. Yet, underneath these structures lies an economic infrastructure generated by corporate profit. The vast checkpoints industry includes the construction of checkpoints, security personnel and equipment provided by Israeli and international companies.

The following pages address the checkpoint industry in the occupied West Bank as a case study of the integral part played by corporate stakeholders in oppressing Palestinian population and women specifically.

Bangkok: Theerawan Charoensuk never thought posting a photo of herself on Facebook holding a red water scoop with greetings for next week's Thai New Year would result in her being charged with sedition and facing up to seven years' jail.

The bowl had a message from Thailand's former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a divisive figure who lives in exile to avoid jail on corruption charges.

"Although the situation is heated, it's hoped that brothers and sisters will be soothed by the water in the bowl," it read.

After Theerawan, a 57-year-old housewife from the northern city of Chiang Mai, was taken to a military base for questioning, military spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd warned that Thailand's military-led regime is running out of patience with those it sees as creating conflict, as south-east Asia's second-largest economy enters an uncertain transition from strict military rule to what ruling generals describe as "Thai-style democracy"...

AN ORDER by the junta giving sweeping police powers to soldiers is part of the “steady erosion of human rights protections”, campaigners said Tuesday as they called for the law to be rescinded.

Last week, the junta government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha issued an executive order awarding all soldiers ranked sub-lieutenant or higher the power to detain suspects for up to a week for a raft of different crimes.

The military said the order was necessary to follow through on their vow to crack down on “mafia figures”, adding there were not enough police officers to do the job.

But the move has been criticised by rights groups who say it is a new judicial power grab by a military government that has clamped down on dissent since seizing power just under two years ago...

Private military and security companies (PMSCs) burst onto the scene 15 years ago, following the declaration of a ‘war on terror’ and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. 

This vast private industry, now worth hundreds of billions of dollars, is dominated by UK companies reaping enormous profits from exploiting war, instability and conflict around the world.  

The time has come to ban PMSCs from operating in conflict zones and end the privatisation of war. 

Over the last four decades, there have been many in working class mining villages, in black and Asian communities, amongst numerous protest movements and in the north of Ireland who would profoundly disagree. Nevertheless, it is a comforting and prevailing fiction – even if it is hard to reconcile with the fact the police in this country are apparently in a permanent state of war.