afrol News, 24 March - Guinea-Bissau, which recently has become a drug transfer country, is aiming at reforming its police units into a "model" force. A strong community component is to improve trust in the police.
The UN peacekeepers in the country, UNIOGBIS, and Guinea-Bissau's government today signed an agreement for the construction of a model police station in 'Bairro Militar', one of the capital's most populated neighbourhoods, within a project that aims at "the establishment of a new police model for the country."
The new police station model, which includes a community police component, is part of the government's Security Sector Reform (SSR) programme. The programme is an essential part of UN and local efforts to re-establish political stability in the impoverished country.
The Bissau Minister of the Interior, Hadja Satú Camará, in her inauguration speech emphasised government's commitment to carrying out its security reform and called for a professionalised police force.
UN representative Joseph Mutaboba said the UN remained committed and ready to work in close collaboration with national stakeholders and the international community "to continue supporting political stabilisation in Guinea-Bissau." He also considered the establishment of the new police model as a first step towards "justice for all" in the country.
The construction of the 'Bairro Militar' model police station, whose inauguration ceremony on was chaired by Guinea-Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior and by Mr Mutaboba, is estimated to cost around US$ 165,000.
According to the Ministry of Interior, two additional model police stations will also be constructed in Bissau neighbourhoods of Quélélé and Bandim. UNIOGBIS promised its support to this development.
Guinea-Bissau has a history of political violence and the involvement of the army and police forces in coups and mutinies. Already during colonial times, police and the armed forces had a reputation of corruption. Low salaries and payment delays of many months only increased corruption and mutiny incidents during the 1990s and 2000s.
During the last few years, an additional problem has struck Guinea-Bissau and its security forces. The country's long and poorly accessible coastline developed into a trans-shipment point for narcotics from South America on their way to Europe.
It soon was established that corrupt security officers were involved in this drug trade. The need for a thorough reform of Guinea-Bissau's police and army thus was recognised also internationally, and donors are become more open to finance such reform in the country.
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