Spotlight: training police for peace enhances AMISOM effectiveness

2019-03-14

The ISS Training for Peace (TfP) programme is working with the African Union (AU) and international partners to develop police skills and expand police participation in the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Police have a fundamental role in peace operations. They play an important role in developing local policing capacity, protecting civilians, and helping to establish the rule of law and human rights.

The ISS/TfP training enables police officers to effectively implement AMISOM’s mandate, says Sivuyile Bam, head of the AU Peace Support Operations Division. ‘It ensures that all police officers deployed for AMISOM have the skills needed to build and sustain peace in Somalia.’

Somalia has suffered from armed conflict since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991. Clan warfare, a collapsed economy and broken infrastructure resulted in a fragile state, with UN peacekeepers withdrawing four years into their mission in 1995.

AMISOM was established 12 years ago to bolster peace efforts by assisting to re-establish government structures. It set out to support national dialogue and reconciliation by assisting the free movement, safe passage and protection of all parties in the peace process. The mission was later mandated to reduce threats posed by armed militants. AMISOM supports the Somali government in its battle against al-Shabaab, builds the capacity of security institutions, and enables humanitarian aid deliveries.

The ISS/TfP course is now the AU’s standard police pre-deployment training for African peace operations

AMISOM was a mostly military operation until 2015 when the AU and UN decided to increase the role of police. By 2018 the number of police in the 20 000-strong mission had doubled to more than a thousand. It currently has more than 500 police officers from six police contributing countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia – and three formed police units of 160 personnel from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

AMISOM police are supporting the Somalia police force at federal and state level to enhance rule of law and justice, maintain order, and fight crime through community policing.

Officers drawn from several police contributing countries require skills training and preparation before deployment to the complex and dangerous environment in which AMISOM operates. This prompted the AU to request the ISS/TfP to develop a standard pre-deployment training package for AMISOM police.

ISS/TfP experts visited the Somali capital Mogadishu in 2015 to conduct a training needs assessment. They then worked collaboratively with the AU Peace Support Operations Division, AMISOM and international partners to tailor the AMISOM pre-deployment training. The curriculum was tested when 18 Kenyan officers attended the training before deployment in November 2015. Twenty five Zambian police officers participated in the pilot training before deployment to AMISOM.  

In 2018 a three-week course was also conducted by ISS/TfP in Nairobi for 30 police trainers from six police contributing countries in preparation for their deployment to AMISOM.

Crowd Chirenje, then Assistant Commissioner of Police and former head of the capability development unit in the AU Peace Support Operations Division, said the development and execution of the training package would not have been possible without ISS/TfP financial and technical support. He described it as ‘the first of its kind in the history of peace operations’.

For more information contact:

Meressa K  Dessu, ISS: +251 911 996163, mkahsu@issafrica.org

Picture: Jacqueline Cochrane/ISS

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