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Courtenay Conrad: Judicial Oversight and Police Violence in India

UC Merced professor presents research findings on improving human rights through court-created accountability institutions.

Apr 18, 2019
from 02:00 PM to 03:30 PM

Kerr 693

Courtenay Conrad, associate professor and director of Graduate Studies, Department of Political Science at UC Merced will give a talk, "Monitoring via the Courts: Judicial Oversight and Police Violence in India" (with graduate student Shengkuo Hu).

Abstract: Under what conditions do court rulings generate improved human rights outcomes? In this paper, we investigate the extent to which court-ordered accountability institutions can decrease repression in the form of police violence. We argue that the creation of court-ordered, regional bodies to which citizens report allegations of abuse provides "fire-alarm" oversight (McCubbins & Schwartz 1984) by which police officers can be monitored for abuses of power. To test the implications of our theory, we take advantage of variance in the implementation of Prakash Singh and Others v. Union of India and Others, a 2006 judgment by the Supreme Court of India requiring states and districts to establish local Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs). Using a difference-indifference design, we show that the implementation of PCAs is associated with significant decreases in human rights violations. Our theory and empirical results suggest that courts can improve human rights through the creation of accountability institutions.

Courtenay Conrad, in addition to her appointments at UC Merced, is the international relations field editor for the Journal of Politics. Her research and teaching focus primarily on political violence and human rights, particularly on how repressive agents make decisions in the face of domestic and international institutional constraints. Her most recent work focuses on the effect of law on police violence in the United States and abroad. She is also interested in international organizations, with a particular focus on legislative procedure in the United Nations.