Guinea is a fragile African country that ranks among the poorest in the world. Land disputes, the migration of internally displaced people, and the presence of ex-combatants from past wars in neighbouring countries all contribute to instability. Since its independence, Guinea’s evolution towards democracy has been a complex process, and the country has faced a very difficult period during the recent Ebola virus crisis.
The EU’s Strategy for Security and Development is helping to address two key civil security issues: training the police and strengthening the public’s trust in them, and removing explosives from the most dangerous areas around the country.
Policing for peace
The EU’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) supported work rebuilding trust between the population and the police. First, key issues in crime and violence in each project location were identified and then the IcSP provided coaching and support to 700 police staff in 13 key areas. This included training in crowd management, investigative techniques, dispute resolution, and the prevention of gender-based violence.
A public code of conduct was developed to ensure that residents were aware of their right to request investigations into allegations of police violence. And Local Security and Crime Prevention Councils were established to combat delinquency in the project areas, including N’Zérékoré and the capital, Conakry.
Finally, a communication campaign built a relationship of trust between the police and citizens.
Locals and project staff involved say that the work has brought a marked improvement in the relationship between civilians and the police, and ultimately led to a safer environment.
Fodé Shapo Toure, a Special Advisor to the Guinean Minister of Security and Civil Protection, says the improvement in relations between the population and the police is clear. “The image of the police and the military has improved considerably. Communities work closely with the police to deal with their safety and security concerns… There is a high sense of community participation and ownership of the population in the entire project.”
Many Guineans also face a deadly threat in their daily lives: the presence of thousands of rounds of ammunition, mines and other weapons. These deadly devices often remain buried in land used by communities.
The destruction of a former ammunition and explosive stockpile in Kindia, the second largest city in the country, was completed in 2016 through this project. Some 600 tonnes of weapons were safely destroyed through a partnership between the Guinean authorities, the European Union and the French government, and this area is now secure.
Who guards the guardians?