Paramilitary policing is a controversial topic. A simple or traditional definition refers to military-style enforcement by armed state or non-state groups. But paramilitarism is not a self-evident concept, its meaning is historically and culturally relative, and attempts to categorize the policing associated with it often lead to acrimonious debate. As a result, most definitions are based on the technology, tactics, uniforms or organizational structures used by the groups concerned, or on their relationship with military forces.
The term ‘paramilitary policing’ is commonly used to describe the enforcement activities of armed groups that, while organized on military lines, possessing military-style capabilities or missions, and behaving or looking like soldiers, are not part of a regular military. Understanding paramilitarism matters for two reasons: (1) it offers potential ...