In May officers from the Somaliland Police completed two EU and UN supported courses, on maintaining public order and safety during the election campaign as well as other public events. The courses were a five-day training of trainers, and a convoy and close protection security training to safeguard visiting officials.

The courses were led by the Somaliland Police and the Somaliland Ministry of Interior, with support from the European Union Capacity Building Mission (EUCAP), UNSOM, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with funding from the European Union and Sweden through the UN Joint Rule of Law Programme.

Training of police trainers in public safety at polling stations

Fifty Somaliland police officers, including ten women, took part in the training of trainers course, which was held in the Police Academy in Hargeisa in early May. The officers were selected from each region in Somaliland, and the training aimed to equip them with the skills to train and pass on the knowledge to police colleagues in their districts and regions, on how to maintain public safety on polling day and other wider events.

The Somaliland Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Mahamed Adan Saqadhi (Dabagale), said the course was key for police officers to understand their roles and responsibilities in this area.

“You have chosen to be trainers, and you have the responsibility to pass the knowledge you receive to the other six thousand to seven thousand officers in Somaliland,” he said.

EUCAP police advisors in Hargeisa worked alongside UN experts on the development of the curriculum, which included information on Somaliland’s Police Act and Electoral Law, how police function in a democracy, conflict resolution, human rights, and on how to work with the media. The course also included practical exercises, and as part of  EU support to election security, EUCAP advisors delivered a module on the role of civilian security forces during electoral processes.

Ole Toger Rasmussen, EUCAP police advisor, said EUCAP’s support aimed to demonstrate the wide spectrum of roles and responsibilities of police and other security forces during key events.

“EUCAP was proud and honored to support this course, and to pass on knowledge on how security forces operate and coordinate with each other, and other stakeholders, to ensure public order during elections and other events, as well as human rights during the process,” he said.

Abdillaahi Mahamed Saed, a Second Lieutenant in the Somaliland Police, and one of the participants of the training, said he gained a great deal from the course. “All lessons were relevant for our duties, and included management of the lines of the voters, supporting elderly people who are not able to stand in long queues to cast their votes first, as well as the skills to resolve any violence that may rise in the polling station, to ensure a peaceful and secure process. Now I’m ready to pass the knowledge I received to my police colleagues,” he said.

Protection of visiting officials as part of peace and security

To support Somaliland police in ensuring the safety of visiting officials, EUCAP and UNSOM also delivered a two-day course on close protection security.  The course included convoy training and practical security procedures for police officers, such as motorcade composition, coordination, response actions, and command and control functions.

Josef Wiklund, UN police advisor in Hargeisa, said the training of trainers and close protection training was important to enhance the Somaliland Police’s professional skills. “Police play a crucial role in protecting democracy and upholding civil society. These trainings have increased the ability of Somaliland police officers to train others in this area. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them, in the context of the UN Joint Rule of Law Project,” Mr Wiklund said.