Monday, February 4, 2008

Community policing in Burkina Faso

"Of the 350 counties that comprise Burkina, there are at least 160 that have absolutely no security infrastructure," writes QuophyBlogeur in a post translated for Global Voices Online.

Burkina Faso’s government set aside funds for a community policing effort in 1998, but a lack of training and information derailed the project. A new policy was reborn in 2003 and is now getting underway. In principal, relevant security services are supposed to integrate with local communities to better understand their “security needs while the local populations are now to be involved in the prevention of crime and disruptions of public order.”

From Global Voices Online:

What can the Local Committees of Security really do? By confining them to the simple role of “prevention,” don't we run the risk of transforming them into demonic circles of denouncements or militias in the service of paranoid gurus who see enemies all around? These questions deserve to be asked, especially in a sociopolitical context where it is visibly difficult to undo the defense mechanisms of the church of politics. Will the Minister of Security have the room to help the CLS [Local Committees of Security] avoid some of the legacies of the CDR — the famous Committees of Defense of the Revolution–that continue to haunt some?

Of course, money appears to be the problem.

Jennifer Brea, who translated the piece for Global Voices Online, notes that community policing is one of those issues that will never pique the interest of a foreign correspondent writing for a big daily, but it is very important for ordinary people and their communities. I’d also say that this discussion says a great deal about peoples' priorities in Burkina Faso.

In the name of full disclosure, I am also involved in Global Voices Online.

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