In a powerful and inspiring address, Professor Juan Méndez, distinguished human rights lawyer and advocate, opened an international conference hosted by Canterbury Christ Church University’s Centre for Policing Research, emphasizing the critical need for commitment to upholding human rights worldwide.

Professor Juan Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, was the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and led the development of the internationally recognised Méndez Principles on Effective investigative Interviewing and Information Gathering, which was the topic of the conference.

The Méndez Principles are a set of recommendations outlining international effective practice for investigations designed to remove torture, abuse, and other forms of coercion from interviews and interrogations conducted by police, military or other security sectors.

Based on science, law, and ethics, the principles propose a concrete alternative to interrogation methods that rely on coercion to extract confessions. They improve the results of investigations, fully respect human rights and enhance trust in the authorities.

The conference focused its topics on the latest research and effective practices on the single global standard of Méndez principles. 

From left Dr Martin O'Neil, Professor Juan Méndez wife Silvia, Professor Méndez, Dr Tara Dickens and Andrew Carpenter
From left Dr Martin O'Neil, Professor Juan Méndez wife, Professor Juan Méndez, Director of the School of Policing Dr Tara Dickens and Andrew Carpenter.

The University offers a wide range of courses from an expert team who have worked as practitioners or researchers within policing, criminology and related fields. The BSc (Hons) Criminal Investigation course trains undergraduate students, giving them the opportunity to critically analyse aspects of police investigations from different perspectives, investigating interviewing of witnesses, suspects, victims and intelligence sources, and the opportunity to learn how to interview effectively, based on the Méndez principles.

In his opening remarks, Professor Méndez said: “I feel honoured by this invitation to speak at this important webinar and I am very grateful for Canterbury Christ Church University’s decisive support for the principles."

Professor Méndez also spoke about the University and its research. “Canterbury (Christ Church) is a leader, and there are some others in the United Kingdom and in Europe that are leaders in research and are science-based organisations of the interview process.

“It’s important for students here, and for the faculty, to continue to contribute to that leadership by disseminating the principles, but most importantly to craft them into curricula and particularly in the course to train police officers around the world in how to do interviews that respect the presumption of innocence, based not on obtaining confessions but obtaining the truth.”

“Since the publication of the principles in May 2021, they have gained significant support in the international and domestic fora, eliciting approving statements and references from a variety of international and domestic law sources.”

Just last month, a significant milestone was reached in the ongoing work to operationalisation the Méndez Principles globally: the United Nations’ Department of Peace Operations together with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) finalised their Méndez Principles-compliant Joint United Nations Manual on Investigative Interviewing to Enhance Criminal Investigations.

This UN manual translates the Méndez Principles into the interviewing practice for police officers drawn from all 193 UN Member States and the basis for all UN capacity-building and development assistance provided on interviewing worldwide.

Find out more about policing at the University.