South Sudan joins regional and international police ranks
South Sudan celebrated its hard won independence six months ago, however the new nation also faced many challenges including weak rule of law institutions, a new police service and a lack of capacity. To address these issues, UNDP is working closely with UN Police (UNPOL) to build the capacity of the SSPS by providing technical support and expertise on issues such as recruiting and training new officers, putting in place policy and strategic frameworks, and establishing internal control and reporting mechanisms.
In September, South Sudan was invited and attended the 13th East African Police Chiefs Conference Organization (EAPCCO) meeting in Rwanda as observers. EAPCCO serves as a forum for the 13 member countries from the region to discuss common issues, in particular border crime concerns, legal procedures, building good police-community relations, recruitment practices, cyber crime, and sharing best practices. During the meeting a resolution to admit South Sudan into the EAPCCO fraternity was presented and passed unanimously. Full membership was granted with the accompanying rights and responsibilities.
SSPS also became a member of the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA). Through this membership, SSPS will participate in efforts to combat crime across common borders, address cattle rustling, prevent terrorism and study the patterns of small arms proliferation in the region. UNDP’s Chief Technical Advisor, Fred Yiga, embedded at the Ministry of Interior, noted “Joining the regional networks is critical to promoting rule of law in South Sudan within the context of the regional policing trends”. Through these partnerships the South Sudan Police Service will be able to take advantage of best practices as well as solicit input on how to address critical policing issues including how to cultivate rule of law. Mr. Yiga continued “It is this sense of belonging in the regional policing framework that will act as their spring board to look further and aspire to be part of known global police practices.”
In November 2011, the SSPS joined the INTERPOL network. By becoming a member of the World’s largest global police network that shares information on crime will help the South Sudan Police Service develop practices and protocols that are in line with international standards.
In addition to joining these three critical networks the SSPS is taking other steps to professionalize and grow, which include:
- Screening and re-screening police officers to ensure that the police service is comprised of fit and well-trained staff. UNDP’s Law Enforcement Advisors in the ten states, together with their UNPOL counterparts are playing a key role in this process.
- Supporting the Ministry of Interior in drafting the SSPS Action Plan (2011-2015) which outlines the future strategy, details on transforming the SSPS as well as targets to measure progress. This plan was presented and passed by the National Legislative Assembly and the Council of Ministers in December 2011.
- Ensuring there is collaboration and coordination between the Criminal Justice System institutions as this will foster a balanced rule of law culture that respects all people in South Sudan.
- Working together with the Ministry of Interior to establish the South Sudan Police College, a national institution that will provide officer training with a special bias in police science, criminal justice, police management and law.
“The Government’s efforts to reform and professionalise the South Sudan Police Service reflects their commitment to delivering safety and security to the people”, said George Conway, Country Director, a.i. “The acceptance of SSPS into the EAPCO, RECSA and INTERPOL demonstrates their progress and UNDP is proud to have supported the Government in these efforts.”