Tracking down offenders

Crime and violence are part of everyday life in many countries. Africa is no exception, but the police do not always receive sufficient training to cope with such situations. GIZ is supporting police forces in various African countries so that they can respond to these challenges.

The security situation in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa is unstable, and the effects of many of the armed conflicts that took place the past can still be felt. Even today, situations can quickly turn violent. The police are often under-staffed, not well trained and prone to corruption. And there is a lack of materials and equipment. Moreover, police officers often come from former rival groups.

Support made to measure

On behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is currently cooperating with police institutions in eight African states as well as the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East Africa Standby Force. A priority area of the programme is to professionalise police forces by providing improved training. Courses teach officers about international standards on criminal investigations and forensics, border security, human rights and dealing with victims of sexual violence. Since 2009, around 9,000 police officers have received training. For Honorine Munyole, who heads South Kivu police station in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this has made a real difference, ‘Today, we are able to prosecute more rapists, as we now know how to secure evidence and track down the perpetrators. Thanks to the increased awareness on the part of the police, we can provide help more rapidly to rape victims.’

GIZ also supports its partners with organisational development; in the Niger, for example, it is helping to develop strategies to improve human resource management. A structured career plan and clear promotion prospects to reward excellent law enforcement performance that supports the population boost the motivation of the country’s police officers.

When it comes to equipment and police infrastructure, too, GIZ assists its partners. Since the start of the programme, 40 new police stations have been set up across nine countries, and 60 police stations in Côte d’Ivoire have received materials to help with the investigative process, for example with taking DNA samples and finger prints.

‘He got the punishment he deserved’

But what do these facts and figures mean for people’s everyday lives? Fidèle, father to 13-year-old Nicole, lives in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. ‘My daughter was raped on her way home from school,’ he explains, ‘and the man threatened to kill her if she told anyone anything about it.’ But Nicole’s father went to the police to file a complaint. Even only a few years ago, he would never have considered taking such action as rape was deemed a trivial offence that the police did nothing about. Families often even forced victims to marry the perpetrator. That wasn’t an option for Fidèle. ‘I’ve never regretted putting my trust in the police. They investigated immediately, found and arrested the perpetrator and handed him over to the prosecutors. And he got the punishment he deserved.’

Citizens’ trust in the police is increasing as police officers become more professional. The foundation has been laid, but there is still a long way to go to establish a modern police system.

Last updated: December 2016

On behalf of
Logo of the German Foreign Office


Marina Mdaihli