Current studies have displayed the media (specifically mass media) as being more open, varied, persistent, and powerful than previous researchers had argued. The media not only reports on occurrences but also directly participates in the processes that such occurrences are composed and take form in the world. The mass media is inseparable from people and the various channels they use in seeking justice but is an integral part of their daily processes in their quest for justice. It is in this particular process of participating in these different activities of seeking justice that the mass media exposes human rights violations and the importance of accountability in contemporary policing measures that are undertaken by States as well as their security machineries, which makes them subject to regulation and reforms.
This dissertation specifically analyses newspapers (published in 2010) as primary sources of data to investigate how issues of human rights are represented in the popular media. First, an internet search is conducted and articles are selected from leading world newspapers as well as Australian newspapers. The articles summarized and analyzed then followed by an integrated analysis and discussion in the subsequent section before drawing conclusions on how issues of human rights in strategic policing are represented in the media.
Data collection and analysis
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The Economist, "How Syria controls its dissidents." September 30, 2010. The Economist, print edition. http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=348951&story_id=17155868
Syria has resorted to ban critics from traveling abroad. Even though the given statistics are not easy to compile, traveling bans are continually issued by Syria's relatively opaque security agencies. Human-rights activists posit that Syrian bans have continued to increase considerably since 2006. A veteran activist, such as Mazen Darwish, a former head of the "Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression", which was shut down, is one of the people banned from travelling by the Syrian government. Other prominent Syrians including writers and lawyers among others who work for international organisations, are being stopped frequently at the borders whenever they are set off to attend international functions. On the other hand, those who that manage do attend are banned from re-entry. Dissidents have been repressed and spied upon since America's invasion of Iraq. Travelling bans are common throughout the Middle East: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and the UAE all impose them. Israel also controls the movement of Palestinians within its territory and can ban Palestinian politicians from travelling abroad. Nevertheless, Syria is termed as the worst offender of all the Gulf States.
ABC online, "Police face trial for lynching suicide bomber", Sunday May 2, 2010. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/02/2887915.htm
In this article, Iraqi police are captured on video lynching a failed suicide bomber and the video clip is broadcasted by a satellite television station. The officers face human rights charges, as reported by the government. Images of the incident, which took place on February 28, 2007. This was at the helm of Iraq's ethnic clashes when security forces were the main targets by terrorists. In this article police are caught in the act of gross violation of human rights and they receive worldwide condemnation.
The West Australian, "Fears of rise in police brutality", 2010. Accessed online from: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/7038767/fears-of-rise-in-police-brutality/
This article points out growing high handedness by West Australian police based on Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC) statistics. It is noted that police brutality complaints have taken a high notch since the assault by police on Const. Matthew Butcher barely two years ago. The figures obtained from CCC indicated that, complaints on police cruelty rose from 175 in 2007 to 202 in 2008 and 201 in 2009. However, there was a general decline of complaints against police over that period.
New York Times, "Top Official to Investigate Police Conduct", October 22, 2010, accessed online from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/22/nyregion/22police.html?_r=1&ref=police_brutality_and_misconduct
This article talks about issues of accountability. Unquestionably, police are expected to be answerable to the law, any form of illegal activities are punishable under criminal law, while other offences require disciplinary actions. The media plays a significant role of highlighting forms of accountability and lack of it to the public; the media enlightens the public. The instruments of accountability available include; criminal and civil courts, independent tribunals, public complaints boards and of most importance codes and regulations governing police practices. However, recently there is an increase in popularity of democratic political control as an instrument of accountability, since law enforcement policy is based on political choice.
Jagland, T, "Why we honor Liu Xiaobo a Nobel." New York Times, online edition October 22, 2010.
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Chinese authorities' condemnation of the Nobel laurite, Liu Xiaobo-a jailed political activist, purposely illustrates that human rights are worth defending. In as much as Chinese authorities are asserting that no one has the right to meddle in China's affairs, they are wrong. Human rights are universal and the global community has a duty to ensure that they are honored.
The contemporary state system developed from the notion of sovereignty created by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. However, the imprisonment of Mr. Liu's exposes the inconsistency that exists between China's criminal law and its Constitution. Mr. Liu was convicted of "spreading rumorsâ€¦ to subvert the state power or overthrow the socialist system." In the global community that is based on universal human rights, a government should not act on opinions and rumors. The Chinese government is obliged to ensure that there is freedom of expression.
PerthNow "Guantanamo: My Journey - the David Hicks story," October 15, 2010. Accessed from: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/guantanamo-my-journey-the-david-hicks-story/story-e6frg12c-1225939299925
This is a comprehensive review of a book titled, 'Guantanamo: My Journey', published by Random House about a young man (David Hicks) from suburban Adelaide who was apprehended in Afghanistan on accusations that he was collaborating with the Taliban in 2001. The Guantanamo bay prison is described as a prison where "even dogs won't live''. David Hicks spent more than five years in custody at the US military prison, identified by Bush as a "the worst of the worst." David Hicks together with other prisoners were initially detained in Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, as the permanent facilities within Camp Delta were still under construction. The most basic of all the facilities, Camp X-Ray were a series of adversities: experience with torture elements, deprivation of sleep as well as mental and physical mistreatment.
Bita, N, "Shock tactics on deadly display" The Australian. October 06, 2010. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/shock-tactics-on-deadly-display/story-e6frg6n6-1225934565258
This article investigates fears that the lethal Taser gun is being abused by Australian police. The gun is said to send victims writhing and roaring in pain, unarmed men are shot mercilessly at close range with the gun. After three years of use by the Australian police, the Taser gun is being used as an instrument of terrorization rather than what it is meant for, a weapon of last resort. The gun is being used just like the traditional methods of physical restraint such as batons and capsicum sprays. The NSW Greens are lobbying for an inquiry into Taser use following the death of a man shot at close range with a Taser gun. Poor policing in Western Australia have resulted in bizarre incidences like an Aboriginal man bursting into flames after being Tasered. The UN has termed stun guns as an "instrument of torture", and as "a violation of human rights".
Sweetman, T, "Bashings by Benjamin Price a wake-up call over rotten Queensland police culture" The Sunday Mail (Qld) October 17, 2010.
In this article, the image of the all Queensland police is tainted by videos showing a former officer, Benjamin Price torturing two Australians. This incidence is watched all over the world and is described as the "most cowardly and disgusting displays of sadistic power-tripping they had ever seen". Most Queenslanders are disgusted by the rotten apple policing, and it's not just a matter of police bashing but that of wasted resources and trust.
Findings and Discussions
Globally, police powers are constantly under scrutiny by the society, the media, lawbreakers, sufferers, politicians, commissions of inquiries and tribunals. The most accountable police services and forces in the world are in the United States, UK, some parts of Europe, Canada and Australian. In Australia for example, the media seems to have developed an obsessive focus on the police, the media perceives itself as an advocate in charge of questioning almost every part of police functions and powers.
The police are highly visible under the magnifying glasses of the media, their actions and functions are observable and they are put in the spotlight at every occasion. In addition, police activities are also scrutinized through media enquiries, ombudsmen, autonomous tribunals, anti-corruption commissions, police complaints board, criminal justice inquires, and royal commissions among other interdisciplinary investigative mechanisms.
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Issues of human rights in strategic policing in Australia are often linked with the need for reforms in police structures; powers, functions and particular police roles.
Media scrutiny of policing and community participation in checking police accountability has been phenomenal in the past decade. This has sparked more public inquiries by the Royal Commissions into the police services of Queensland and New South Wales. Australia has reached a point where its public police services are feeling absolutely wearied by the numerous accountability inquiries (formal and informal) that they face. However it is important for the Australian government policing services to stay transparent in their definition of their services as well as their delivery and it is critical for the strategic policing practices to include the measurement of local community responsibility.
Sometimes, newspapers and other mass media tends to overstate the proportion of crimes that result in apprehension which paints an image that police are doing their job more responsibly than demonstrated in official statistics. On the contrary, some of the issues of strategic policing such as human rights violations are sometimes overrated. For example, whenever the media publishes a story on the rights of the aboriginals, the police are always painted as violators of human rights-disregarding their very efforts on reforming their strategies. Nevertheless, it is clear from the above articles that positive or negative perception of strategic policing can partly be attributed to police's public relations approach.
In conclusion, positive media reporting influences positive police perception, and positive police perception reinforces conventional policing strategies in the maintenance of law and order that includes; increased police powers and stricter codes of conduct and practice. This implies that there is a symbiotic association between popular media and the police, the media and the police are involved in a mutually productive relationship. Media personnel need the police to provide them with fresh, reliable crime information, while the police need the media to display them positively in their operations. The reporting of practical police activities fashions a positive perception of the police as more accountable and efficient investigators of crime.