UN Migration Agency and Minister of Interior conference on Community Policing

With the support of the UN Migration Agency (IOM), the Iraqi Minister of Interior recently held a conference in Baghdad to introduce the Community Policing (CP) model and its strategy.

The conference showcased the ongoing fruitful cooperation between the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and IOM, namely in relation to the two-year programme “Strengthening Community Policing in Iraq”, implemented since February 2016 and funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. IOM’s main project partners are the Government of Iraq, in particular the MoI, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The programme aims to improve security in the country through cooperation and information sharing between police and local communities.

“We thank the German Government and IOM for their efforts in support of the Community Policing model, which enhances trust between communities and their police force and therefore contributes to improving security. The Ministry of Interior looks forward to furthering this cooperation to better protect and serve the Iraqi people,” said the Minister of Interior of the Government of Iraq, Qasim Al Araji. “On behalf of Iraqi Government I also thank all the Ambassadors and International Organizations who have been standing by Iraq and its people,” he added.

IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss expressed IOM’s wish to further its cooperation with the MoI and implement the next phases of the Programme; he also underlined the importance of the Community Policing model in Iraq as an “essential cornerstone in rebuilding trust and confidence in the country and among its people”.

The model “represents a unique opportunity to develop trust among local community members and police officers,” said Mr. Oliver Schnakenberg, German Consul General to Iraq.

“The Community Policing project strives to reinforce social cohesion and improve security by enhancing interaction between the various security actors in Iraq”, added the Minister of Interior.

The programme aims to fill the current rift between law enforcement actors and local communities, by bringing them together in the framework of Community Policing Forums (CPFs). CPFs are inclusive platforms that enhance cooperation, transparency and mutual trust between these actors to strengthen basic democratic structures and increase security in Iraq. They are meant to discuss and solve issues raised by their members through negotiation and mediation, rather than violence or revenge.

The implementation of the Community Policing model has triggered a “process driven by Iraqis for Iraqis: local police officers and community members identify and develop initiatives that lead to safer communities and protect the most vulnerable,” said Weiss. The CP model encourages CPF members to “analyze the available resources in their respective communities and to assess the ability of a wide range of actors to find solutions to situations that are potentially dangerous and harmful. As such, CPFs are tools for conflict prevention,” he added.

The model has been shaped and implemented by relying on a deep knowledge of Iraq and its geo-political context, to meet the needs of its social fabric. Through such expertise, the programme has developed a methodology that is able to identify the contexts of conflict in Iraq, the sources of tensions and the actors who can play a positive and peaceful role to defuse them. Also, surveys are conducted at the community level every three months to allow their members to evaluate the model’s impact and performance. Because it is tailored for Iraq, Iraqis and their needs, the programme is self-sustainable on the long term.

In a coordinated move, the MoI, specifically the Community Policing Directorate in Baghdad in coordination with Community Policing Directorate in Kurdistan – led respectively by Brigadier Khaled Almhanna and Col. Dara Faruk – has developed a five-year CP strategy. The plan was elaborated by a Study and Research Center in coordination with IOM, IWPR (Institute for War and Peace Reporting) and several civil society organizations, and followed a scientific research methodology. Additional information was sourced from lawyers, journalists and religious and tribal leaders.