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Thematic Issue: Vulnerability and the Law

Policing the Police: Independent Investigation for Victoria

Author

Sinéad O'Brien Butler

In Victoria, complaints against the police made by members of the public are predominantly investigated and determined by serving police officers. Such police-dominated complaints mechanisms are widely considered to be ineffective, and are being increasingly abandoned the world over.

With reference to the obligations imposed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, this article critically examines Victoria’s police-dominated complaints mechanism and argues that it violates the right to an effective remedy contained in article 2 paragraph 3 of the Covenant. As a constituent state of a state party to the Covenant, Victoria is obliged to give effect to the Covenant’s obligations, and so must create an independent police complaints mechanism tasked with investigating complaints made against the police involving allegations of breaches of the Covenant’s protected rights.

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