DUBAI // Police chiefs have revived a special unit set up to investigate complaints and prevent abuse of power by officers.
The Human Rights Department, re-established after being dormant since 2008, will also consider complaints about any other government institution.
"If we find that there is any arbitrary action taken by any of our policemen or there is exploitation of power, we will take all necessary disciplinary measures," said Col Mohammed Al Mur, director general of the new department of 300 staff.
Police promise to respond to a complaint within five days, and the complainant will be contacted and briefed on any action taken.
Offiers found to have provided inadequate service, or to have been negligent, will face disciplinary action ranging from a warning to dismissal.
More serious offences such as illegal arrests, physical attacks and use of force during questioning are considered criminal, so the officer would be referred to public prosecution.
"If our investigation finds that no offence was committed, we explain to the complaining person on what we based our findings and we also provide the legal text that we have based our findings on," Col Al Mur said.
The danger of abuse of power was a recurrent theme in public remarks last year by the Dubai police chief, Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim.
“Each one at Dubai Police, without exception, must provide fair treatment and interact with the public in a friendly, polite, professional, responsible and ethical manner,” he said in September.
And at an awards ceremony in July he cautioned his officers: ”A security figure is either hated or loved by the public. All of you should aim for the latter.”
The Human Rights Department was established in 1995, the first of its kind in the UAE, but was dissolved in 2008 after many of its tasks were reassigned to the Community Development Authority.
A General Department of Legal and Disciplinary Control was set up to handle police complaints.
“We used to receive many complaints from the public during our work at the Legal and Disciplinary Control Department, and we felt people trusted our measures were objective and not merely cosmetic, so a police department concerned with human-rights violations became necessary,” Col Al Mur said.
The new department has seven sub-departments. Many are similar to the sections that operated under the Legal and Disciplinary Control department, but two are new – one for the protection of human rights and liberties, the other for the protection of children and women.
A humanitarian section will handle issues involving people with financial problems.
“This section is to study such cases and try to connect these people with charity organisation to provide solutions for their problems,” Col Al Mur said.