UN seeks to enhance police reforms in Somaliland

Somaliland police officers ride on horseback during celebrations to mark the 22nd anniversary of Somaliland's self-declared independence from the larger Somalia, in Hargeisa May 18, 2013. REUTERS/Feisal Omar (SOMALIA - Tags: ANNIVERSARY POLITICS CRIME LAW) - GM1E95I1KHR01

The United Nations on Tuesday wrapped up a high-level security conference that discussed comprehensive police reforms to help stabilize the autonomous region of Somaliland.

The meeting which was organized by the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was also aimed at bolstering the rule of law in the region by strengthening the police force.

Staffan Tillander, Director of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions Group at UNSOM, in his opening remarks expressed optimism that the reforms which are intended to safeguard and further enhance the security of Somaliland would also bolster the rule of law in the region.

“The existence of a functioning justice chain with effective police, justice and corrections sectors is absolutely crucial in ensuring the rule of law and upholding human rights, including ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of media,” Tillander said in a statement released after the conference.

He added that the reform process should ensure enforcement of other relevant legislation and policies, including the bill criminalizing rape and gender-based violence against women.

The conference also discussed the implementation of comprehensive reforms that would complement the Police Act, which was recently signed into law by the President of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi.

UNSOM Police Commissioner Lucien Vermeir stated the UN’s support for the reforms are intended to help the police force attain its key priorities for growth.

During the conference which was attended by ministers, senior government officials and civil society including UN representatives, participants expressed their commitment to reduce human rights violations and enhance community policing by 2021.

Somaliland Police Commissioner Abdilahi Fadal highlighted a series of recent achievements in the security sector that included the approval of the Police Act, the creation of a police structure and ranking system, improved capacity building for police officers, and enhanced security in the region.

“I am grateful for the support that development partners and international agencies have extended to Somaliland Police,” Fadal said.

The conference took place two months after a similar forum was held to outline priorities for the development of the Somaliland justice and corrections sectors.

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