Police brutality manifests itself in different ways and to different degrees in different places, but the common denominator is the abuse of power by people entrusted with it.
In the past years we've witnessed police brutality in countries such as Sudan, Myanmar and Egypt among others. Now we're seeing police brutality in Syria, where government forces continue to wage a campaign of violence against citizens in an effort to curtail the very dissent and exercise of civil liberties that could lead to a more just society.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has indicated that the police brutality perpetrated by Syria's Assad regime might constitute crimes against humanity.
In the United States we have important legal tools for holding people accountable for police brutality. Police officers can be held criminally liable for murder, manslaughter or assault. They can also be held civilly liable for wrongful death, excessive force and civil rights violations.
When it comes to international law, the means of holding individuals accountable for power abuse are not as clear cut. International human rights law continues to evolve but some avenues of accountability are the United Nations, the International Criminal Court and the court of public opinion.