Major reforms needed in our police service!!

“The police are doing unacceptable things against the law contributing to insecurity” (Dr. Riek Machar, VP-RSS)

By: Deng Riek Khoryoam, South Sudan

October 5, 2011 (SSNA) — The 100 days announced by President Kiir soon after the formation of his first government in the republic of South Sudan is a good start and positive gesture. What remains to be seen is whether or not the planned activities or the set objectives are realistic, measurable and achievable within the 100 days action plan. Of course we may be curious as to whether or not any tangible thing is going to be achieved within or after the100 days plan. We need real action this time round. We need results of what was done, that is going to be the basis for evaluating anything accomplished within the 100 days. The ministers and civil servants need to pull up their socks and work seriously so that to deliver to the expectations of the citizens. We don’t want them to just talk, talk and talk in the media while nothing is being done or achieved. Action will speak louder than what one says! Indeed, action willspeak for itself – not the person!

Contextually, within these hundred days announced by H.E. the president, a lot of reform program is badly needed in our police service if we are to curb the rampant insecurity in Juba and across the 10 states of South Sudan. Juba is the worse place in terms of insecurity. The rate of crimes in Juba is very high and cannot be compared to any other place on earth. This is because of the uncontrolled borders whereby foreign criminals just enter freely without anyone raising an eyebrow. The police are also aggravating the issue by contributing to the criminal activities taking place in Juba. They are doing horrible things. They are using excessive force against innocent civilians, sometimes. They don’t maintain law and order as they are supposed to do, and as mandated by the constitution.

Perhaps, one would say without hesitation that it was what precipitated the vice president to lash at them as he was quoted to have said that “the police are doing unacceptable things against the law and contributing to insecurity”. It’s good to get to know that the big shots are also aware of what our friends are doing to us – the citizens. Instead of protecting the citizens while striving to maintain law and order, they do just the opposite! Our police should not do what their colleagues in Kenya used to do some years ago. They should dedicate themselves to the service of the citizens of South Sudan.

The new minister of interior has a whole lot of things to do that entails transforming or reforming our police service personnel. He has a daunting task at hand to ensure security of the civilians at all costs. Security is vital. It’s one of the sophisticated needs in the human hierarchy of needs, according to Abraham Maslow’s theory of human needs. One has to feel secure before he/she can embark working on the farmland or doing developmental work. Insecurity makes people vulnerable to hunger and prone to other ailments since it prevents people from going about their businesses or activities. Therefore, in the nascent state, security is vital and of paramount importance if we are to realize development. Some states, Jonglei for instance, could not go an inch in the past six years in terms of development because of the rampant insecurity that rocked the state. Some communities are heavily armed and can act either in defence or offense!

Firstly, the new minister will need to determine the size and capacity of the police service personnel and how effective they are in serving the citizens. This is very important. Secondly, he will need to train and retrain the current police personnel because some of us have a feeling that they are not well trained. Our police act like SPLA soldiers, who pay no respect to human rights (not human wrongs!) and other issues. Be rightly informed that I do not suffer from any illusions not to know that most of the police officers are former SPLA soldiers/officers who were screened and transferred to police service. That was good too – no bad! But then they needed to be trained on the rule of law itself. Many awful incidences that could be cited as caused by police were unlawful and illegal acts. They need to be taught on disciplinary procedures or the code of conduct and how they are expected to behave when on duty. The police are duty bound to respect civilians because they are their friends; likewise, the civilians should also respect and co-operate with the police because they are their friends and protectors. That is how that relationship should be viewed – but unfortunately, we are seeing the opposite of it.

Thirdly, their wages need to be increased so that they can be able to carry out their duties well and happily. It’s unfortunate that the salaries of our police personnel have never been increased despite the skyrocketing of the market prices. Surely 300 SSP is too title a salary for a person whose family size is big to survive on. No wonder that’s why sometimes our police resort to robbing and bribery in order to support their families. I sympathize with them on this! It’s not good and fair. The ministry of interior needs to increase the salaries of our police so that they can have strong desire to serve the people of South Sudan with honour and high morale. By so doing, it will surely motivate our police to strive to do the very best. Promotion is also another motivating factor. The kind of promotion I am talking about here is not that promotion which makes people “bosses” at one go. It’s a reward to those who do a terrific job!

In conclusion, police aren’t enemies of civil populace, they are their friends. That relationship between the police and the civilians should be viewed in the sense that each is a friend to the other. A lot of reforms need to happen in our police service. I just hope that our police are not too deformed to be reformed!! Also, the reform agenda should entail long term plan of those who are nearing retirement. Those who are very old but still active serving should prepare a smooth ground for them to exit. It should be a smooth transition. The young and energetic junior officers should be allowed to climb the ladder fairly well and not just be randomly promoted for the sake of promotion or scoring a higher rank.

Our police should be taught on human rights and on their own obligations such as to respect the civilians. No one is above the law, including the police officers. We urge the minister of interior and his deputy to increase the salaries of our police in Juba and all the 10 states of South Sudan so that we can hold them accountable for any acts contrary to the law. Please, also increase the salaries of prison wardens, fire brigade and other law enforcement agencies so that to motivate them and do the best they can in discharging their duties. Discipline those who act contrary to the law and instil in them a sense of dedication to the service of the nation and its citizens. Our traffic police are good because sometimes they impose hefty fine son those reckless drivers who disobey the traffic rules. That is good but they need to minimize it!

God bless the republic of South Sudan!!

Time for reform in our police service personnel!!

The author lives in South Sudan and could be reached for comments at [email protected]

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