Africa Briefing Paper 1: Somaliland Police Force
Somaliland National Constitution 31st May (2001) stipulates in Article 124: The Police and the Corrections Forces and in paragraph (1) is providing; The Police Force shall be responsible for protecting the peace and for enforcing the law, and its structure and duties shall be set out by law.” The Government of Somaliland reinstituted National Police Force.
Somaliland Police has various divisions operate under the Ministry of Interior and with their structures and functions defined by the police law No. 63/2013 and Somaliland Constitution article 124 (1). Both the Somaliland constitution and police law indicated the objectives which the police was established mainly to safeguard and protect the life and property of the citizens.
The law enforcement and compliance national constitution are central pillars of Police roles and responsibilities. As Somaliland constitution has defined, the police have mandated the law enforcement and maintaining peace and security of the country. Police divisions play the very vital role in the country political stability, justice and defending the rights of the citizens.
Furthermore, Somaliland police force was established in 1993-4 and it is apparent that the Somaliland police has made a lot of progress both physical infrastructures, improving police facilities and human development. But the rapid urbanization and sophistication of the crimes at present time, the police has limited capacity to prevent such high rate crimes most notably in the urban cities of Somaliland and controlling some periodically armed clashes between rural communities.
In the meantime, the surrounding challenges that police has experienced require more political commitment and strategic reform that enable police divisions to be competent in all manner. At moment the crimes are complex and very sophisticated. Therefore, the police reform is indispensable at all levels in order to safeguard the nation. Reforming the Police Force will also contribute to uphold the law and order and to ensure the citizens’ safety and security to be granted and regularized in a democratic manner.
Hence, it is indisputable that police have mandated the law enforcement and safeguarding citizens but there are low accountability measures and absence of the independent oversight if the police use excessive forces to the civilians as in many occasions of peaceful demonstrations people had experienced such undesirable police behavior.
In this regard, Somaliland civil society is concern about the accountability of the Police divisions as intelligence services dealing with criminal investigations, arbitrary detentions and making the law to be enforced. The most police stations are very much occupied with poor sanitation and not progressing regarding the accessibility, infrastructure development, and operating systems.
On the other hand, many unlawful acts take place in the urban areas due to the limited capacity of the police, for instance, around 1.5million people were estimated to live in the capital city of Hargeisa which is also a city that is rapidly growing but the police presence and their operational police stations are very few in number and have limited facilities to prevent such anticipated widespread crimes. From this level of limited police presence in the capital city across, the youth crime rate is high and the theft is uncountable.
Moreover, during this study of the briefing paper, SONSAF has found that most international support given to the police of Somaliland was particularly channeled to the police special units that fight against the terrorism as RRU and this is an indicative the low scale of the police capacity regarding its traditional operations with crimes and arrests.
In the meantime, the police conduct must be regularly monitored for instance, terrifying the people while arresting has become a widespread phenomenon and this is unlawful because this police behavior is contrary to the constitution, while Somaliland is a democratic country and citizens have the right to be protected and live with the safer environment at all times.
The legacy and attitude of the Siyad Barre regime are many times repeated with incoherent manner believing that state practices can be realized using more forces dismaying people. Thus, Somaliland civil society and human rights defenders have been loudly talking in the recent past years that police reform is necessary otherwise this may jeopardize the democratic aspirations of the people of Somaliland.
Indeed, it is disgraceful and impractical Somaliland Police Force to use only live bullets with the people who are peacefully demonstrating and it is inconceivable Somaliland Police Force is always fully armed which is unnecessary since Somaliland is very peaceful. The police shortcomings in which this briefing paper depicted and analyzed have profoundly denounced the security sector reform (SSR) which was launched in 2011, in this reform, the police force was needed to be a fundamental pillar and it is where access to justice can be instigated.