Policing and the Law of Human Rights


The text for this course can be purchased through the College using the order form.


Since human rights law takes precedence over all other legislation except constitutional laws, its relevance in the police workplace should not be underestimated. Virtually all of the significant human rights case law relating to police has been decided in the last few decades. Many officers currently serving will not have been taught about human rights law during their training since ongoing police education generally does not address this area of law.

The law of human rights affects virtually every area of policing:

  • Recruitment
  • Employment
  • Operational policing

Many things raise human rights issues:

  • Recruitment
  • Accommodation during injury
  • Illness, pregnancy, family reasons, maternity leave, parental leave
  • Employment equity
  • Religious considerations
  • Firing
  • Retirement
  • Interactions with the public

The costs of human rights proceedings are great, not merely in financial terms, which may amount to many thousands of dollars, but also in terms of time lost from work, legal fees, damage to departmental reputations, to careers, and to morale.

This course is a must for anyone working in personnel or recruiting as it covers, in great detail, issues of discrimination, accommodation, discipline and the rights of employees.

It is also very important for policy makers and patrol supervisors as it addresses the interaction of police officers with the human rights of individuals in the community.

Key learnings

After successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Define discrimination according to human rights legislation.
  • Explain the concept of “protected areas of activity” as defined in human rights legislation.
  • Explain the concept of “prohibited grounds of discrimination” in Human Rights law.
  • Describe how human rights legislation is distinct from other forms of law.
  • Describe the role of human rights commissions and the process of adjudication of human rights cases.
  • Define a bona fide occupational requirement and how it affects the selection of police officers.
  • Develop strategies for preventing violations of human rights in the police recruitment process.
  • Recognize a human rights violation in the workplace and implement actions to remedy it.
  • Explain the role of human rights law in the delivery of police service to communities.
  • Develop strategies to prevent human rights violations from occurring.

I started this journey to increase my understanding of human rights and how it affects us as police officers and employees. This program has led me down a path that I'd never have imagined. Today, not only can I share my educational understanding of human rights and policing with my co-workers, I also get to practise it as a Commissioner with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission."

Cst. D. PRASAD, RCMP Antigonish Detachment