November 5th, 2006 03:24 EST
Professional police force critical to rebuilding Liberia, UN official says
A professional, accountable and disciplined police force is indispensable to building democracy especially in countries recovering from protracted war, a senior United Nations official said in Liberia.
“Lessons from the recent history of Rwanda and other conflict areas, including Liberia, teach us how things can go horribly wrong when there is a breakdown in the rule of law,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Deputy Special Representative Luiz Carlos da Costa said.
“We hold the firm belief that a professional, accountable, and disciplined police force is essential,” he added at a ceremony to award peacekeeping medals to Rwandan Police Officers serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
Mr. da Costa said the Liberian National Police cannot win the battle against crime in isolation. “They need the support and assistance of each and every member of the Liberian society,” he said, urging communities “to view the police as close partners in the task of making Liberia safe and secure.”
The deputy UN envoy welcomed Rwanda's contribution, given its own experience of internal conflict, to Liberia. The group of 15 officers in Liberia is the first batch of Rwandan police officers to be deployed on UN peacekeeping duties. Rwanda is also currently contributing police officers in UN service in Cote d'Ivoire and over 2,000 soldiers to the African Union mission in Darfur, Sudan.
The contingent commander, Dennis Karera, said his country's contribution to Liberia stems, in part, from Rwanda's own experience from the 1994 genocide. “The bitter lessons learned from that experience made Rwanda to decide to render support to all peace efforts worldwide in preventing human suffering, loss of lives and search for peace,” he said.