Lapses in SSR Spur Public Fear over UNMIL Drawdown

first_imgUnited Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) gradual drawdown is instilling fear among Liberians and foreign residents alike as a result of numerous lapses contained in the Security Sector Reform (SSR) exercises spearheaded by that body.These lapses are clearly evident in the performances of the national security apparatus, especially the Liberia National Police, a detailed study conducted by an official of the Governance Commission, has revealed.The study was conducted by Dr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae, one of the commissioners at the GC with oversight on decentralization. It reveals that the manner in which LNP officers were recruited, coupled with the manner in which they were trained has created a bad public perception about the force thereby lowering public confidence in the police. That situation is detrimental to the maintenance of law and order (peace and stability) in the absence of UNMIL.Making a presentation on the SSR yesterday in Monrovia, Dr. Dorliae said the purpose of the study was to understand how UNMIL’s training affected effectiveness of performance and public confidence in the ability of the LNP to maintain law and order, that the result proved otherwise. The presentation was titled: “UNMIL Training of Liberia National Police: Effectiveness, Results, and Future Implications.”Analysis of UNMIL’s reform exercise revealed mixed results and impacts on the effectiveness of police performance in the country. The findings further indicated that the adverse impacts are not entirely training related but also resulted from the behavior of the Government of Liberia towards its police force. Some of these negative impacts are the results of low salaries, lack of incentives and lack of logistical support.Quantitative data were used to address impacts of UNMIL’s police training on the maintenance of law and order. The data, according to Dr. Dorliae, were collected through a researcher-developed survey which measures recruitment, training, effectiveness of performance and public confidence in the police. Participants were 120 persons drawn from government officials, some of them senior officials, UNMIL officials, LNP and members of the Civil Society Organization (CSO).He also indicated that a qualitative semi-structured interview data were also gathered from 18 additional participants to address the challenges for quality improvement in the performance of the police.The findings indicated that there were some lapses in the recruitment process conducted by UNMIL because people who committed heinous crimes during the civil crisis were recruited. Sufficient background investigation was not done during the recruitment exercises, leading to criminals being recruited.It also indicated that recruitment and vetting were exhausted, candidates were not investigated with due diligence regarding their character and human rights records.The findings indicated that people were afraid to speak during the recruitment process because they were afraid of reprisals. “People did not feel free to express themselves because there was no guarantee of confidentiality.”People even in high ranking positions in the LNP confided that the training exercises were disjointed, the finding reported.The finding alleges that the government does not see the police as its responsibility, but rather as that of the international community because it was the international community that spearheaded the entire process with little or no interest from the government.Quantitative findings also indicate a moderately significant correlation between police perceived knowledge and job performance, thus implying that UNMIL’s training effected some changes relative to the maintenance of law and order.However, the diversity of trainers from contrasting policing jurisdiction produced an outcome that lacked a country-specific context for Liberia, a common law country with a criminal justice system and policing tradition patterned after that of the United States.The findings showed that the government failed to take ownership of the LNP reform exercise and to provide leadership and adequate resource support to complement the training due to its weak commitment.On the level of performance, the findings overwhelmingly showed that it is capable of maintaining law and order, though some of their training cannot be put into practice as a result of lack of some essential logistics.“Some police officers have been trained in forensic investigation. They learned these things in well equipped laboratories where they were trained, but they cannot apply that knowledge here because of lack of logistics,” the report quotes a high ranking LNP official.Lower ranking police officers are not effective in performing their duties because of constant interference from the boss or higher-hands. The finding indicated that the police is state-centric rather than people centered; as a result they tend to protect the powers that be than the public. “International police reform has become an integral component of post conflict peacekeeping and state building operations of the UN, with the overarching objective being to build stable democracies in those post-conflict fragile states. This has not always been the case though an effective police force is a critical component of sustainable state-building and democratic governance.Liberia’s democratic theory justifies the necessity for an effective police force as an embodiment of state authority for upholding the rule of law and protecting the democratic political and socio-economic processes (human rights, investment that provide jobs, elections) that are crucial to maintaining stability in a democracy.He, however, recommended that government and UNMIL must collaborate to professionalize, depoliticize and structure the LNP as a semi autonomous service institution; and situate the force in its common law criminal justice system with organization, structure and rank catalog harmonized with its police tradition.The UN post-conflict international police training mission in the future should be driven by what is required to implement training specific to host country’s policing needs and not by availability of funding and donors.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Officials back `Three Strikes’ reform

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PASADENA – A proposed change to the Three Strikes law is receiving broad support because it mandates that sentences of 25 years to life be restricted, in most cases, to situations where the third offense is a serious or violent felony, according to law enforcement officials and defense attorneys. The proposed Three Strikes Reform Act of 2006 is being backed by police, prosecutors and defense attorneys. It was submitted with the Attorney General’s Office in early January by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Brian T. Dunn of the Cochran law firm in Los Angeles. If it garners enough support, the measure could appear on the November ballot. “I think it’s long overdue,” Pasadena police Chief Bernard Melekian said of the proposed reform. “I’ve always thought Three Strikes was an excellent concept in public policy that was very flawed in its execution.” Proposition 184, the “Three Strikes” law, was passed in 1994 out of frustration with repeat violent offenders who seemed to be on a “revolving door” in and out of prison, Melekian said. A common criticism of the law is that it’s unfair and too expensive, because some repeat offenders receive 25-to-life sentences for minor third offenses that are classified as felonies because of prior convictions. Lael Rubin, head deputy for the District Attorney’s Office’s appellate division, said the inequities of the current Three Strikes law are well known. Some defendants received 25-to-life sentences for minor infractions like possession of a single cocaine rock, or theft of food or diapers, Rubin said. Previous attempts to reform Three Strikes, including Proposition 66 in November 2004, have been too severe, Rubin said. Only 47 percent of voters favored Proposition 66, which Rubin said eliminated some serious and violent offenses from the list of possible strikes, and would have triggered “massive resentencing.” With the defeat of Proposition 66, it became clear to Cooley that meaningful reform was necessary to save Three Strikes as an important tool for prosecutors, Rubin said. The current proposal would require that the third strike be serious or violent, Rubin said. A relatively minor offense could still be classified as a third strike if it involved elements like large quantities of drugs, certain sex offenses or a defendant armed with a firearm, Rubin said. Robert Kalunian, chief deputy public defender for Los Angeles County, called the latest proposed change to the Three Strikes law “excellent.” “The current Three Strikes law is overly broad and basically has the capability of encompassing a whole lot of individuals that one wouldn’t think should be sentenced to 25-to-life in prison,” he said. The new proposal also requires that defendants who received 25-to-life sentences for minor third offenses be resentenced according to the new provisions. marshall.allen@sgvn.com (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4461last_img read more