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.
Somaliland police force has had different historical evolutions commencing from the Somaliland British Protectorate Government to post-independence of the state of Somaliland, and period of a merger between Somaliland and Somalia. First, the British government had established Somaliland Police Marine Force in 1910, second, Somaliland Camel Corps was created in 1912, third, Somaliland Police Force had been established in 1926 and finally, Somaliland Scouts were formed in 1941.
The merger of Somaliland and Somalia was established by law no.5 of 31st January 1961, Article 10 of this law has made the formation of the Somali Republic retroactive from 1st July 1960. Paragraph (2) of Article 6 of law no.5 is providing; “The Police Forces of Somaliland and Somalia shall constitute the Police Force of the Somali Republic and shall be under the authority of the Minister of Interior.” The people interviewed during the preparation of this briefing paper told that the Somaliland Police Force requires to be transformed into the more civilian police force, not alike military armed forces but well trained civilian police forces and civilian control police force.
Upon restoration of Somaliland in 1991, Somaliland Police Force was again re-established in 1993-4 after two years from the collapse of Somali Republic in 1991. Somaliland Police Force was established by law N.54GW 3, Nov 1994 and this law was amended in 1995 and Somaliland parliament recently approved Somaliland Police Force new Law no.63/2013, the President of Somaliland enacted through presidential decree Sum: JSL/XM/WM/222-06/122017 on 26 December 2017and Solicitor General Office published 06/01/2018.
However, the attributes of the Police Force is kind of military and the signs of totalitarianism is observed and this culture can endanger the cooperation between the Police Force and the general public. There are legal ambiguities, an example in Article 21 Ranks and Uniform, the law says specific rules will establish Ranks, with which the establishment of Police Ranks should be separate Act.
Furthermore, the Somaliland Police Force has made a number of achievements first the quantity and quality of the Police Force was tremendously increasing from time to time most notably the Police Force training and equipment increased in some extent, providing ranks for the Police Force personnel for the first time in 2013 and it was historical after 20 years from the re-establishment of Somaliland Police Force Law No.63/2013.
Nevertheless, the Somaliland Police Force lacks many facilities and training which are necessary for the Police Force to obtain constantly in order to provide quality services to the citizens. Regarding theoretical settings, Somaliland security is attributed as “hybrid security” and this was meant as people’s centric security approach. In addition, there are no other standards for Police Accountability, Integrity, Oversight, Inspection and Code of Conduct for public officials. The role of Police in democracy and election is not in the law.
In Somaliland, this pattern of cooperation and trust between security institutions and general public contributed Somaliland to be an oasis of peace in the Horn of Africa. Nonetheless, many of the people conducted interviewed in between May – July 2018 signaled out that sustaining this cooperation between Police Force and the general public needs more strategic development and regular evaluation.
In fact, this is a high risk if the confidence of the general public to be lost or not maintained at all while the Republic of Somaliland is relied on this hybrid security more than decades- long. Hence, the earlier voluntary disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration in 1993-4 had contributed the reduction of arms and curbed the larger ammunition that was in the hands of the civilians, which civilians had possessed during liberation movement from 1981-1991. Though Somaliland has made the initiative of small arms registration in 2009-2010, small arms are still remaining in the hands of the civilians.
Despite Somaliland is peaceful and proved to resolve its social and political conflicts mainly through a mix of constitutional democracy, customary and homegrown approaches. However, many people are questioning how long this customary conflict resolution will be pursued because Somaliland has experienced several clans armed clashes in the rural area due to rule of law institutions not decentralized yet in many rural areas and this is a serious threat to the national security at all times.
Thus, in this briefing paper, the main aim is to examine the challenges that Somaliland Police Force encounters and public perceptions of Police Force services of safeguarding the citizens and preventing crimes. Eventually, the Police five years strategic plan 2017-2021 and its national priorities require more analytical and conceptual explorations considering the multiple challenges that Somaliland Police Force faces on daily basis and the Police Force strategic plan must also address all Police divisions needs and strategic matters both short and long-term.