Promoting Human Rights and Gender Equality in the Police Force

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Safety and security are the key foundations for building lasting peace and prosperity for all Somalis. UNDP is helping the Somali people to tackle insecurity and conflict by strengthening responsible policing that considers the needs of the communities.

UNDP’s Civilian Policing Project supports training and appointment of police officers, promoting human rights training and gender equality in all three Somali police forces and helps foster public trust and confidence in them. In addition, new police uniforms were issued in Mogadishu and Somaliland to help better identify police officers and distinguish them from the military. This will eventually build trust and confidence and tangibly improve the official conduct of the police.

Women in Somalia are particularly vulnerable and underrepresented in government institutions. Their voices need to be heard when designing responses to insecurity. This requires ensuring sufficient numbers of women in the police and also career support for female police officers, enabling them to perform professional police duties at all levels. Targeted recruitment and training of female police officers has resulted in an increase of female police officers. So far, 850 women have been recruited and trained.

A special focus has been given to respond to and investigate gender-based violence cases as well as provide specialist facilities such as ‘women and children desks’ to assist survivors. In addition to the women and children desks, improvements are ongoing to mainstream gender issues in the justice sector in Somaliland. Political commitment as well as commitment by UNDP and the international community to support long-term interventions raised awareness on issues of gender-based violence in Somaliland. There are a significantly higher number of cases now going to court as well as survivors coming forward for treatment and support at the Hargeisa Group Hospital. This is largely due to efforts by UNDP and the hospital to raise awareness on sexual and gender-based violence the services available, and increased capacity building of the staff working at the centre.

In addition to the police training, UNDP has worked towards standardizing the human rights curriculum for law studies in the universities in all three regions of Somalia and has trained 100 criminal investigators in Puntland. This training will increase the capability of the police to investigate crimes including violence against women. This support is urgently needed at a time where cases of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of women and girls constitute an enormous problem in Somalia.