Hargeisa – A high-level police conference was held in the “Somaliland” capital of Hargeisa yesterday and focused on strengthening the “Somaliland” Police Force.
The conference discussed the implementation of comprehensive reforms that would complement the Police Act, which was recently signed into law by the President of “Somaliland” Muse Bihi Abdi. Participants included the Ministers of Interior and Justice, the Deputy Minister of Planning & Development, “Somaliland” police chiefs, senior government officials, the United Nations and other representatives of international community, as well as members of local civil society organisations.
The United Nations’ senior representative at the conference was Staffan Tillander, Director of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). “I welcome efforts taken by President Muse Bihi, the ‘Somaliland’ Parliament and the Minister (of Interior) in passing the new Police Act,” said Mr. Tillander in his opening remarks.
He expressed optimism that the reforms which are intended to safeguard and further enhance the security of “Somaliland” would also bolster the rule of law in the region. He called on government officials to lead the reform initiatives.
“The existence of a functioning justice chain with effective police, justice and corrections sectors is absolutely crucial in ensuring the rule of law and upholding human rights, including ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of media,” said Mr. Tillander, adding that the reform process should ensure enforcement of other relevant legislation and policies, including the bill criminalizing rape and gender-based violence against women.
UNSOM Police Commissioner Lucien Vermeir affirmed the UN’s support for the reforms, which are intended to help the police force attain its key priorities for growth. “I heard your call, you will have my support, and UNSOM Police will be more present to make that possible and assist you,” said Mr. Vermeir.
In his remarks, the “Somaliland” Deputy Police Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the Police Commissioner Gen. Abdilahi Fadal, highlighted a series of recent achievements in the security sector that included the approval of the Police Act, the creation of a police structure and ranking system, improved capacity building for police officers, and enhanced security in the region. “I am grateful for the support that development partners and international agencies have extended to ‘Somaliland’ Police,” he said.
The “Somaliland” Minister of Interior Mohamed Kahin Ahmed opened the day-long conference by promising the police force’s active involvement in counter-terrorism efforts. During the conference, ministry officials expressed their commitment to reduce human rights violations and enhance community policing by 2021.
Facilitated by UNSOM and the UN Development Programme, the conference took place two months after a similar forum was held to outline priorities for the development of the “Somaliland” justice and corrections sectors.