Creating alternative policing in the absence of Abyei Police Services
To fulfill its mandate and as enshrined in the UN Security Council Resolution 2416 (2018) requesting the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) within its existing capabilities and resources to create and strengthen the capacities of Community Protection Committees (CPCs), the UNPOL Training and Development Cell conducted a series of training program over the past five months for CPCs and Joint Peace Committee (JPC) members. The CPCs are established to assist with the management of law and order processes in Abyei in the absence of the Abyei Police Service.
Since the JPC and CPC members work is voluntary where no remunerations are paid to members, there is a high turnover and the training programs conducted were meant to bridge the gap created.
The unarmed and volunteer JPC members who police the business hub of Abyei, the Amiet market, was the first group to be trained. This group is made up of Misseriya and Ngok Dinka community members who have come together to fight a common enemy in the area. CPC members from the southern side of Abyei then followed.
The establishment of the CPC stations is driven by the crime in the area as well as the inaccessibility of the areas, especially during the rainy season. This will ensure that the communities have some form of protection and service almost every time.
The training program aimed to standardize the operations of CPCs and JPC members to basic international standards of policing (community policing) as well as respect for human rights. Even though these members have been carrying out law and order duties, most of them had not received any formal training resulting in a lot of mistakes and human rights violations along the way.
The training covered the following areas:
Community Protection Committee Background and overview: This included the purpose of the establishment of CPCs/JPC
Community Policing: Much focus was on the responsibilities of community members in the protection of their area, information gathering, and dissemination as well as crime prevention methods.
Correction Management: Emphasis was put on the advisory role to CPCs/JPCs concerning International Human Rights standards of detainees.
Criminal Investigation: Crime and exhibits identification, as well as arrest procedures, evidence gathering and handling of children in conflict with the law according to international standards.
Gender and child protection: Protection of vulnerable groups within the community as well as the equal application of the law without any gender discrimination was covered. Gender and sexual-based violence issues were also discussed.
Women are also taking up the challenge and joining CPCs to police themselves as well as protect their interests. A total of 147 members were trained, and 22 of them were female.
The series of training program is expected to go a long way in the maintenance of law and order in the Abyei Area. Evidence of the effect of the training program has already been seen in the way the JPC members of Amiet, the TCCs and CPC members in Abyei, coordinated and arrested three suspects and recovered a stolen truck. The suspects were arrested in Amiet market and whilst verifications were being made they escaped from custody and drove the vehicle towards the south. Information was shared between JPC, TCCs and Abyei CPC members and the suspects were re-arrested, and the vehicle recovered.
The Abyei CPC with mentorship from UNISFA UNPOL carried out investigations and confirmed that the vehicle was indeed stolen and that a Warrant of Arrest had been issued in Juba. Senior Police Adviser, Deputy Commissioner General of Police Mary GAHONZIRE, handed over the truck and three suspects to the representatives of the government of South Sudan on 2 May 2018.
The training programs and the establishment of CPCs are an ongoing process aimed at maintaining law and order in Abyei area in the absence of the Abyei Police Service.