Security: Delimitation of statutory functions

Security: Delimitation of statutory functions

Pakistan Observer
By Hafsa Razzak
14 May 2014,

IT is indeed the responsibility of the state to provide security of life and property to the state organs, contingents and contingencies relating to the function of the state but most of all to each and every citizen of that state under the social contract. Understandably and unfortunately the former maintain a monopoly over the equally legitimate right to security of the latter and protocol duties for the influential few take precedence over community policing and protection of human rights of the ordinary population.

The police and law enforcement agencies of Pakistan are overstretched due to ambiguous boundaries of function and one may attribute this to the political forces that determine and delegate authority to the public law enforcement agencies. Police constabulary is tasked with protecting sensitive installations and providing round the clock security to individuals and their families where some of them are not involved in governmental function.

Their emergency response procedures during these types of duties are crude and reactive instead of being public-friendly. These issues are a result of an inherently negative training environment which promotes repressive tactics as they are not provided training on how to respond congenially to non-serious situations and threats.

In shaping our security industry, we can learn from foreign precedents; take for example the Federal Protective Service (FPS) of U.S. which is responsible for protecting federal government property, personnel, and customers (federal departments, agencies, and entities that utilize FPS). FPS works under mandated security regulations and policies of U.S government and employs over 15,000 contract security guards through private security contractors. It also maintains a security policy and standards in addition to monitoring compliance with standards amongst contractors.

Unfortunately, in Pakistan, after being issued a license from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the contractors function without any other legal authority binding them to adhere by the minimum set standards to operate. There must be an authority to relegate proper verification of recruited security personnel as induction of persons without proper background checks can prove to be a liability. There should either be a government department in Pakistan to oversee security needs of the state or the process of delimitation must be applied to the existing security enforcement agencies for such operations. The current police force can be mobilized into the new specialized security channels.

The concurrent legislative list that was abolished after the 18th amendment contained many subjects that are now under the provincial jurisdiction. The provinces have their own ordinances for the functioning of security companies, but an overall monitoring of this industry can only be possible with the help of a federal authority that oversees the ongoing activities.

Under the 18th amendment, the federal regulatory authorities established under a federal law were added to the federal legislative list II (shared responsibilities). The Security Industry Authority will be able to function more effectively by coordinating with the respective governments of different provinces which have provincial ordinances for the regulation and control of private security. The responsibility of government oversight with the formation of a regulatory authority will be divided between the members of the authority who will come from different government departments and backgrounds related to security.

Greater and persistent accountability needs to be in place to ensure compliance and penalize violations of security standards. The proposed Security Industry Authority of Pakistan (SIAP), if established under the Ministry of Defence shall not only oversee the activities of the registered companies but will also ensure that the security guards have undergone proper training, that they possess required licenses, certifications, permits and comply with performance requirements such as equipment, record keeping, availability of personnel for supervision and refresher courses.

Coordination between security forces of different provinces, and also between the state’s security forces and private security companies operating with a legal license, is important for maintaining law and order. The purpose of public security forces and private security, both, is to ensure the safety of the general public. As long as there are loopholes and abuses of political power, the beneficiaries of these loopholes in public policy would continue to exploit instruments of public safety for their egoistic needs.

Pakistan Observer

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