Local Defense Forces to be reformed
The lower chamber of Parliament has passed a bill that will lead to the reorganization of the local defense forces into a new security organ called Local Administration Police.
James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, explained that the reform is the result of a decision by the general assembly of the Senate of October 29, 2009, having reviewed the report of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security. This led to the request to the government to review this law governing the organ of Local Defense (LD) and update it in order to tackle numerous problems in their functioning.
“The survey, which assessed security issues countrywide, indicated a lack of confidence in the LDs – they only received a confidence vote of 54%, while the police was given 97% and the army 98%,” the minister said. “While the LDs have contributed a lot in supporting the army and police in maintaining security, various problems were noted in their functioning, especially issues of poor or unprofessional performance, or transgression of responsibilities. Therefore, new guidelines were to be set,” the minister added.
According to the minister, for the new Local Administration Police (LAP) more attention will be given to capacity building, as well as supervision and monitoring by the districts under the supervision of the ministry in charge of local government. There will also be a clearer demarcation in regulations and procedures to follow.
“Some of the people will be selected from former local defense personnel with a remarkable reputation, and who fulfill the requirements,” the minister explained.
According to MP Suzanne Mukayijore, it was also found that some of the responsibilities of the LDs were similar to those of the Community Policing Commissions, night guards, police and others in charge of local security.
“It was puzzling how all these organs were to work together,” Mukayijore explained. “It is good to have security ensured, but we also need to regulate them and specify their specific tasks, hence, this bill clearly defines the role of LAP to include ensuring the security at the local administration offices, markets, ensuring the security of the local administration officers in charge of revenue collection, among others.”
The bill also specifies that LAP will have to support local administrative entities in decision implementation; ensure the general security of local administrative entities; prevent crimes, arrest and take the culprits before competent authorities; investigate and submit to the competent instances information related to security; ensure the security of the infrastructure located in their area of work; and disaster. Members of the Local Administration Police will be based at the level of the District and the City of Kigali; they will be armed and trained by the national police.