Mary Gahonzire, Rwanda’s deputy commissioner general of police - “Before the genocide, both women and men thought that the police was for men. But through women’s organizations, parents and village leaders, we’re now trying to encourage women to apply.”
Photo: Anna Simonsson
Police cooperation builds new police force
The general public’s confidence in law and order was at rock bottom following the genocide. To rebuild it, the Rwandan government has been working to strengthen the judicial system. This is a long process and one important component of this is a professional police force.
Sweden’s cooperation with the Rwanda National Police began in 2003. A few years later, the South African Police Service also became involved in the Programme for Democratic Policing (PDP), as the cooperation is called. The idea behind this was that because South Africa has a history that is in some way similar to that of Rwanda, South African police would have a lot to offer their Rwandan counterparts.
And that has been the case. With their different experiences, the Swedish and the South African police complement each other well in their Rwandan work. For example, on site in South Africa, the Rwandan police have been able to see how to work with community policing – how everyone in the local community helps to prevent and solve crime.
Other areas that have been in focus are criminal investigations, liability among authorities and individual police officers, and management.
Training leads to a thirst for more knowledge
A few years into the cooperation, training and capacity building for female police officers also became part of the programme. The National Swedish Police College in Växjö is involved in changing the basic police training, and Rwandan officers are receiving special training, after which they can pass on their knowledge to their colleagues.
To improve their ability to investigate crime, the Rwandan police have also been supplied with some technical equipment. They have been taught how to use it to secure evidence and how witnesses should be interrogated.
Morris Muligo, head of Serious Crime Investigations within the Rwandan police force, says: “The training we’ve received has helped us a lot. But it has also made us realize that we need even more training.”
Women gaining ground
Because the Rwandan national police force grew out of a military organization, there were basically no female police officers to begin with.
Mary Gahonzire, Rwanda’s deputy commissioner general of police, says: “Before the genocide, both women and men thought that the police was for men. But through women’s organizations, parents and village leaders, we’re now trying to encourage women to apply.”
South Africa has been working hard to strengthen the role of female police officers. The Rwandan police can now benefit from these efforts, and one step is a new network for female police officers.
While the police in Rwanda have made great progress, especially in rebuilding people’s confidence, much remains to be done, both in issues that concern organization and those to do with knowledge and methods.
The present co-operational agreement between Sweden, South Africa and Rwanda applies until 2010 and will then be extended until 2013. The guiding force for the work is the Rwandan police’s own strategy, in which they have prioritized the important issues.
Sweden’s agreement with Rwanda on police cooperation forms the basis of this work, which has now entered phase 2. There is a plan for this to continue until 2012.