UNDP and Government of Iraq commence missions to assess rule of law needs and challenges at provincial level

Sep 8, 2016

Security Sector Reform awareness raising meeting for civil society in Basra. Photo: UNDP Iraq/2016

Basra - At the request of the Government of Iraq (GoI), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been helping counterparts to reform the Security Sector and broader Rule of Law priorities in the country. In order to ensure the reform plans are robust and address both national and provincial level priorities, UNDP’s Rule of Law team undertook a field mission to Basra from 6 to 8 September 2016. Also represented were the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the Baghdad Security Sector Reform Civil Society Network.

This was the first of a series of joint missions facilitated by UNDP to raise awareness of the long-term reform efforts and assess rule of law needs and challenges at the provincial level, with a specific focus on civilian policing and criminal justice systems in order to inform the national level planning.

The Security Sector Reform (SSR) awareness raising meeting for civil society took place on September 7th in Basra, where civil society participants recognized SSR as a top priority. The following were identified as both pre-requisites and challenges to GoI SSR efforts: developing trust and confidence between the public and security sector, an inclusive approach to address security challenges involving participation of security and justice sector authorities and civil society, and strengthening legislation to make the security sector services more efficient and accountable. Tribal conflicts, drug trafficking and border control/management were also highlighted as key challenges where further assistance is required.

“These gaps and priorities are well recognized and diagnosed by the Security and Defence Committee (SDC),” said Committee member, General Mallik AbdulKareem Abbas, during a meeting with the delegation.

In turn, Head of Basra Provincial Security Committee, Mr. Jabbar Al-Saidy, underscored “the need to develop mechanisms for joint engagement amongst the Committee, police and public.”

On the second day of the mission, meetings were held with Chief of Police in Basra, General AbdulKareem Al Mayyahi, and a delegation from the Basra Police Training Directorate headed by Director of Trainings and Courses, Brigadier General Dr. Mohammed Hussein Jasem. The meetings provided a useful opportunity to assess civilian policing, broader rule of law context and aligned challenges, in addition to police training priorities at the provincial level.

Improvements in the criminal justice systems specifically in the areas of arrest, detention, prosecutions and correctional services (i.e. custody and prison conditions and rehabilitation of offenders) were further highlighted as pressing gaps that require addressing urgently for they serve as breeding grounds for violent extremism and radicalization, especially amongst the economically disadvantaged youth. Head of Basra Provincial Security Committee stressed “the critical need for a comprehensive programme to reform offenders.”

UNDP’s Rule of Law Programme Manager, Ms. Chamila Hemmathagama, said: “Civil society in Iraq has a critical role to play in civilian oversight of SSR. UNDP will continue to engage with civil society within its broader support to GoI SSR efforts.”

Looking forward, the joint SDC - Civil Society SSR working group will engage with the Basra civil society in the implementation of the joint action plan in order to improve democratic governance and civilian oversight of this long-term reform process.

Contact

Chamila Hemmathagama, Programme Manager, Rule of Law, (m) +964 751 184 3529

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