28 May 2020
José Manuel Colodrás, Police Chief Inspector and coordinator of the FIIAPP-managed and European Union-financed EU-ACT project, tells us about his experiences and his day to day life working and living in Ukraine.
How was your arrival in Ukraine? Do you have any anecdotes from that time?
My first contact with Ukraine was in March 2017, although my final deployment did not take place until May that same year. I was surprised by some Ukrainian customs, relationships and attitudes, among other things, the apparent coldness of the Slavs. It must be said that this was a first impression, since as soon as you earn their trust, you can find friends here who trust in you as much or more so than in Spain, even with the barrier that the language represents.
An anecdote that caught my attention is that the national dish in Ukraine is «сало» pronounced | salo | (bacon) sliced and accompanied by raw garlic and pickles (mainly pickled gherkins). It is usually had as an accompaniment to vodka or other similar drinks (whiskey is as popular here as gorilka, which is what Ukrainian vodka is called. I was surprised, as I did not think that culinary traditions that have totally vanished from many countries in Europe, like that of making salo and pickles at home, were maintained. Family relationships are also something that, while a little differently from how we do it in Spain, are cultivated in Ukraine with meals on Sundays or outdoor barbecues.
And the adaptation period? What were the most and least difficult things for you?
The adaptation period was fast. City life is relatively easy. The hardest thing for me (and I still find it difficult) is adapting to the bureaucratic mentality, inherited from the Soviet tradition that permeates not only the administration but even the work of private companies. Any management task is complicated and the procedures for hiring, for making a simple bank transfer, or requesting a certificate make it extremely difficult to implement our international cooperation projects and, sometimes, also daily life.
Is this your first experience of living outside Spain? Is it proving to be very different from your previous ones? How long have you been there and how much time do you have left?
I have had previous experiences, but only for a few months (in West Africa: Nigeria and Senegal). As I mentioned, I have been here for 3 years and I have, in principle, a few months still to go, until December 2020.
What is your work like, your daily routine? Is it very different from the routine you had in Spain?
Yes, it must be said that the routine is very different. In Spain as a Chief Inspector with the National Police Corps, personal relationships, both with subordinates and colleagues, and with other institutions and people, occupied most of the time.
In the EU-ACT project, on a day-to-day basis, even before this COVID-19 mandated quarantine, a very significant part of the work was carried out over the internet, especially interaction with other project members: calls, emails, messages and the use of our own project platform that allows us to share all the material in the cloud. In that sense, the work is very different and has made the transition to these times, when teleworking is mandatory, quick and relatively easy.
Personal relationships with beneficiaries (Ukrainians) and with other international partners also take a long time and, in this case, they are also very different. It is necessary to put yourself in the position of being a collaborator and facilitator, rather than trying to be a protagonist in the activities, this makes for a very interesting and enriching change of perspective.
From the point of view of institutional representation, I now represent not only Spain, but the entire European Union, and that, of course, also broadens the vision we have of our work. There is a clear awareness that the EU is a whole and that, from the outside, we are increasingly seen as “Europeans“.
What is the relationship with FIIAPP like?
My relationship with FIIAPP has always been very positive. I would simply say that most of my colleagues are also friends, especially the colleagues who provide support from Madrid, who have made my job much easier and from whom I have learned enormously. What I hope is that this relationship with FIIAPP, which started before this project, will continue when this project ends. Of course, I consider FIIAPP to be a key instrument for the international projection of the Spanish administration, something that historically we have lacked compared to other countries.
How would you rate your experience of working as a FIIAPP expatriate?
As I have commented, it has allowed me to get to know a new work methodology, new areas of knowledge (socio-health issues, public policy development, the operation of international projects) and finally, it has given me a broader vision of my police work. From a personal and even family point of view, it is turning out to be a great experience that not only will I remember all my life, but it will certainly have a great impact on my personal and professional development. It is an opportunity for which I have to thank the Spanish administration and it motivates me to give the best of myself in every activity, event or meeting that I hold within the framework of the EU-ACT project.
12 March 2020
We interviewed Diana Achard, Senior Advisor to the Community Police in the Myanmar Police Reform Support Project (MYPOL)
Diana Achard is one of the three highest-ranking women in the Myanmar Police and works on the Myanmar Police Reform Support project. The project is managed by the FIIAPP and funded by the European Union.
Achard joined the police academy in 1984 and was assigned to the Taunggy police force in 1985, before being transferred to narcotics. There, Achard managed domestic and administrative work, but she quickly became an undercover agent.
In 1994, she was transferred to southern Shan, to an area known as the ‘golden triangle’ due to drug trafficking. During this stage, she was named leader of the narcotics team for southern Shan.
In 2008, she was promoted to captain based on her excellent record and major drug seizures under her command. This was the year when she joined the Yangon Financial and Narcotics Investigation Team (NTI). At the NTI she collaborated with all the bilateral agencies (Australian, ASEAN, India), sharing information and participating in major operations.
By 2012, Achard had been promoted based on an impressive track record of seizures and she was transferred to the International Relations Division within the Narcotic Drugs Division.
In 2017, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was transferred to the Transnational Crime Division (DTOC, based in Napyitaw), a unit with 110 sub-departments, including narcotics, cybercrime, human trafficking, environmental crime and part of the criminal investigation department.
Achard represented the Myanmar Police Forces (MPF) and Myanmar in all narcotics-related matters.
What was it like being a woman in the beginning?
Almost from the beginning I was assigned to undercover duties and handling information and confidants since there were only two women in the unit. When I left the MPF in 2018, there were twelve women in the Transnational Crime Division (DTOC), but they were mainly assigned to administrative and secretarial duties.
Have you faced challenges and obstacles to achieve recognition for your work?
It is difficult for any police officer to get a promotion, but it is particularly difficult for female officers. I was a lieutenant for seven years because I am a woman despite being responsible for major drug seizures.
What can women contribute to the MPF?
Regarding narcotics, I believe that obtaining reliable information is crucial, and civilians and informants trust women far more than they do men. What’s more, it used to be unusual to find women in undercover operations, so, we had an additional advantage. These days, it is far more common. In general, I would say that women are more persistent workers, are more meticulous and excellent at negotiation and mediation.
How is the MPF advancing in terms of gender integration in the police service?
Well, when I started in ’85 there were 2.2% women in the police force and there are now 9.6%. Little by little, women are getting recognition for their comparative advantages and skills.
Female investigators have now been appointed in most Yangon districts as focal points for crimes involving women and children. There are also many women in charge of mediation, negotiation, and intelligence gathering.
Generally speaking, I would say that women are better educated and better equipped, since the entry requirements are more rigorous (at least a two-year degree is required). On the other hand, women in the police also have more opportunities to integrate non-traditional police branches.
What is the main barrier for women in the MPF?
Access to dominant roles; no matter how capable you are, this is still dominated by men.
How do you see the future of women in the MPF?
Given that women have to choose between having a married life or the MPF, I doubt that the situation will progress in the short term. However, there may be some hope for the future. Although it is a slow process, a new generation of Myanmar women is determined to move up.
30 January 2020
Posteado en : Reportage
With the 2030 Agenda in mind, the FIIAPP manages European cooperation projects in Algeria and Morocco to improve the educational systems of both countries
When Albert Camus won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, he wrote a letter of thanks to one of his primary school teachers. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened, wrote one of the most significant writers of the twentieth century. Albert Camus was born into a humble family of French settlers in Algeria. His mother was almost illiterate and his father died during World War I when he was little. However, despite the poor little child that he was (his words), his teacher, a man named Louis Garmain, made sure to guarantee Camus’s right to education. A right to which millions of minors do not have access.
According to UNESCO, there are more than 260 million children in the world who do not attend school and 617 million children and adolescents who cannot read. We can unequivocally affirm that there are not enough Garmains to remedy this. But it is necessary to mention that there are public institutions, agreements, the will of countries and international cooperation. And, fortunately, guaranteeing inclusive, equitable and quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities is one of the sustainable development goals that the international community has set out in the 2030 Agenda and to which the work of the FIIAPP Contributes actively.
The FIIAPP and education
Aware of the value of education in ensuring the sustainability, peace and development of societies, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 24 January International Education Day. Committed to this reality, the FIIAPP manages several projects funded by the European Union that work in Algeria and Morocco in this dimension.
“Of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals signed in 2015 in the 2030 Agenda, number four is the quality of education and I think it’s the most important one because all the others in one way or another depend on it for solving poverty in the world, achieving peace and bringing about the well-being of all the inhabitants of this planet,” explains Pilar Garcés, vice-minister of universities and research of Castilla y León and head of the two twinning projects financed by the Union European, and managed by the FIIAPP in Algeria and Morocco.
The FIIAPP in Algeria
Professor at the University of Valladolid, Antonio Bueno coordinates a project managed by the FIIAPP in Algeria in support of the Algerian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Bueno works hand in hand with the professor of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Algeria, Amina Benbernou, to improve Algeria’s academic potential. “The aim is to reinforce the teaching skills of teachers in research and improve the administration’s management skills,” says Benbernou.
A twinning between Spain and Algeria is established for this purpose, through which various specialists travel to Algeria to work alongside the Algerian institutions. Efforts focus on improving the governance of higher education institutions, in line with the standards of the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area. In this way, the project provides the necessary tools to improve higher education in Algeria.
For Bueno, “Sharing educational ideas is based on the reality that all citizens who receive them have the same rights and duties and are called to the same mission: that of the progress of humanity.” Through this project, Spain brings the work of highly qualified professionals to Algeria. “Spain is well positioned at the level of pedagogy and monitoring in digital education and synergy. The contribution it can make to Algeria is to support this topic with high-level specialists,” says the Algerian professor.
According to Bueno, the fact that international cooperation allocates resources to education is very significant for societies: “Education is surely one of the areas in which cooperation offers the best results in the short, medium and long term, and although wealth may not be immediately perceived, the truth is that it produces it in abundance.”
The FIIAPP in Morocco
Improving university education in Morocco. With this objective, the FIIAPP manages a twinning project with Morocco. “Higher education has its shortcomings, there are many more private than public universities, which can lead to a kind of “decompensation” and produces a certain inequality among the population,” says the head of the project and Deputy Minister for Universities and Research of Castilla y León, Pilar Garcés.
Through the work of specialists, the project not only promotes improvement in educational organisation, management and legislation, but also explores solutions to the problem of overpopulation in the Moroccan higher education system. “There should be more infrastructure to be able to have a really important and strong higher public education,” says Garcés.
Therefore, specialists from the Junta de Castilla y León work with their Moroccan counterparts on introducing techniques, methods and tools that serve to support the higher education system in Morocco. Among the objectives of the project financed by the European Union is the implementation of an ECTS system to assess qualifications, and the accompaniment in the development of a new national strategy in this area.
For Garcés, “education is one of the most important issues in the life of any human being, because it provides social peace and well-being and enables people to get out of poverty, or reduces violence.” Therefore she agrees with Bueno and very much appreciates the European and Spanish institutions’ financing and development of cooperation and twinning projects: “I think it’s a very important duty that governments should take it even more seriously than they are at the present time, because although it’s true that the economy is important for a country to progress, education is even more so,” she concludes.
19 December 2019
Posteado en : Opinion
Alma Martín Pérez, a support technician in the EU-Cuba Exchange of Experiences programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency reflects on programme participation at COP25 and the results of the summit.
The COP25 World Climate Summit expected more ambitious agreements on climate change neutrality by 2050. The frantic level of discussions and negotiations from the almost 200 countries participating in the summit relentlessly sought a last-minute consensus. Nonetheless, the CO2 emissions market and other relevant issues were postponed until Glasgow COP26, scheduled for November 2020.
Over two weeks, representatives from countries, international organisations, institutions and civil society produced figures that testify to the urgent need for action: The oceans are receiving 13,000,000 tonnes of plastic annually, increasing acidification of the seas is affecting fishing and impacts on food security. Three quarters of the planet are under threat, over one million species are at risk of extinction, greenhouse gases have reached a new high. The next 50 years will see 250 million to 1 billion environmental refugees. The data is overwhelming. Commitments are needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the temperature rising by over 1.5 degrees.
Nonetheless, COP25 was not only about raising the alarm and the environmental emergency. It also offered spaces for awareness and dialogue to address environmental issues from a multi-disciplinary approach: biodiversity, gender, migration, town planning, industry, finance, technological development, etc. A wide range of topics to ensure that both specialists and the general public alike learn of the situation as it stands, without giving way to drama and pessimism, because there is still time to act.
Accordingly, FIIAPP worked closely with the High Commissioner for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, helping to organise COP and promoting different activities, such as the panel on “Energy transition and economic investment opportunities in Cuba” in collaboration with the project coordinator Maite Jaramillo, Felice Zaccheo (European Commission Head of the Regional Programs Unit for Latin America and the Caribbean), Marlenis Águila (Director of Renewable Energies at the Cuban Ministry of Energy and Mines), Elaine Moreno (General Director of the National Energy Office in Cuba – ONURE), Ramsés Montes (Director of Energy Policy at ONURE) and Eric Sicart (Fira Barcelona). This event falls within the scope of the EU-Cuba Experience Exchange programme to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, which is funded by the European Union and managed by FIIAPP. The main elements of the programme were highlighted at this event, along with the opportunities and challenges facing Cuba in developing renewable sources and using energy efficiently.
Island countries are directly subject to the consequences of climate change and are aware of how strongly environmental protection is linked to sustainable economic and social development. Formed by specialists from MINEM and ONURE, the Cuban delegation invited to the COP used the panel to announce the country’s ambitious policy to substantially reduce the use of hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 by progressively increasing renewable energy sources and enhancing their use in the electric power generation matrix.
Beyond the COP, the international community has begun to take steps towards ecological transition. However, the challenge is to do so in time and justly and fairly to prevent a worsening of existing inequalities. The responsibility for change requires public policies by countries, international and regional organisations aimed at decarbonising the economy, adapting the current system to the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.
Even though the agreements reached at COP are not those envisaged, one thing has become evident in the course of the summit, namely, the interest of Spanish society in strengthening climatic action and in progressing towards CO2 emission neutrality. It is time to act and seek joint solutions.
21 November 2019
We interview Jesús Agudo Ordóñez, leader of the Twinning project “Forensic training towards advanced examination methods in Turkey” and expert adviser with the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Science, who talks to us about forensic science and what it contributes to this project being carried out in Turkey.
What is the main objective of this Twinning project?
The objective is to strengthen and improve the methods used in forensic laboratories in Turkey. To do this, arrangements have been made for Spanish forensic science specialists to collaborate with their Turkish colleagues.
The Spanish forensic science specialists basically come from three sources: firstly, the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences, occasionally joined by medical examiners from legal medicine institutes; secondly, the Criminology Laboratory of the Civil Guard, and lastly the Forensic Science Laboratory of the National Police.
They’re all forensic science laboratories, one of them being civil, which is our laboratory belonging to the Ministry of Justice, and the other two, the National Police and Civil Guard laboratories, coming under the Ministry of the Interior.
What do you think this project can bring to Turkey?
This project will help Turkey above all to standardise the methods used in investigations in forensic laboratories. It’s true that Turkish forensic laboratory technicians have a very high level, probably comparable with most European countries. Perhaps the most important added value that Spanish experts can provide is precisely — and this is one of the aims of the project — that of making the techniques used in Turkish laboratories uniform and standardised and ensuring they are certified.
What activities will be carried out to achieve these objectives?
Forty activities are planned over two years. Practically every week there is some activity and some form of travel by the technicians of the institute or the laboratory of the Police or the Civil Guard. These technicians usually travel in pairs and we organise seminars and training cycles in Turkey, attended by Turkish technicians from the same field as the Spaniards sent there.
At the National Institute of Toxicology we’re dedicated to forensic science from, shall we say, a human perspective. We don’t have engineers here, but all the specialists here are experts, graduates or postgraduates in biomedical sciences. Therefore, our activity is focused on the study of crime in general, including those crimes that have occurred and their effects at an organic level, at the level of tissues, in short at the level of people.
The National Police and the Civil Guard also work in this field, but perhaps what makes them different from us is that they provide training on other, more police-specific sciences such as ballistics, sound and image engineering, voice recording and digital recording of crimes that don’t so much affect the person, the body or the human, but tend to be more technological, more “cyber”-related. So, there are training plans for all these areas.
How does having specialised forensic experts help countries?
Forensic science helps guarantee and improve the quality of police investigations for crime prevention and prosecution. Police sciences are fundamental; they are the backbone of society to maintain order and justice. Specifically, the National Institute of Toxicology belongs to the Ministry of Justice, and for a society to have the existence of order and justice at its core is fundamental for the development of interpersonal relationships and of all kinds of professional and business initiatives.
Therefore ultimately what we’re talking about is ensuring countries’ prosperity and wealth and making sure their citizens feel safe in their dealings with one another and in initiating projects with economic impact that contribute to the enrichment and growth of their country.
What added value does FIIAPP bring to the project?
FIIAPP is a structural element of this cooperation, without whose involvement it would be very difficult to carry out this type of project. Ultimately what the people who take part in these projects contribute, both the beneficiaries, Turkey in this case, and the collaborators, Spain, is scientific know-how, in this case forensic science know-how. But it’s essential to have a body to perform organised administrative and economic tasks. So FIIAPP is the necessary body, the cement needed to make the project cohere. Without FIIAPP, projects would not have much future or make much sense.
Do you think international cooperation is important for receiving knowledge and contributing it to other countries?
For the peripheral countries of Europe, for countries that have applied for EU membership, for other countries that may not yet be eligible to apply or haven’t applied but are in its orbit, I think it’s very important because it’s about propagating the way of doing things we have in Europe.
It’s a way that’s widely recognised in the field of forensic science and that is compared internationally with other areas of influence such as the US and Asia, and it’s important that countries close to Europe or looking to be part of it in the future start adopting these kinds of methods, getting used to working with quality criteria, standardisation of methods so that when the day comes for closer approximation or full membership, everything will be that much easier and the people working in those countries will have learnt how to work in the European context.
Constant communication between the institutions of the member country, Spain, and the beneficiary country, Turkey, is important, with FIIAPP as a coordinator. It’s also important not to lose touch with the European Commission which is driving and funding this project. It would also be a good idea to maintain, as we have done on occasion, a close relationship with them to help solve those little things that may be small obstacles and try to improve day-to-day operation of the projects.
07 March 2019
Posteado en : Opinion
Project coordinator Francisca Guzmán reflects on the importance of legislative adaptation to the country in this matter
Morocco has a long history in the regulation of the carriage of dangerous goods by road. The country has been a signatory of the European Agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR) since 2001 and ten years later, in 2011, Law 30/05 was published that regulates the carriage of dangerous goods in the country. This establishes the framework for this mode of transport but refers local transport to the effective application of the international agreement.. Going a step further on this path, the FIIAPP now manages, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works, a twinning project in Morocco that, funded by the European Union, is committed to safety in the carriage of dangerous goods by road based on the ADR.
This project aims to improve safety and strengthen the structure and activities related to the carriage of dangerous goods by road, and its main objective is the preparation of the regulatory texts mentioned in Law 30/05.
The necessary regulations for the application of ADR in domestic transport, adapted to the intrinsic characteristics of the country, have already been developed by the Spanish specialists participating in this project. The Moroccan Administration, after the legal wording of these texts has been adapted to the Moroccan legislative technique, will begin the administrative procedure for the approval and publication of the set of laws that will regulate not only the carriage of dangerous goods, but also all fields which concern and are affected by this carriage.
The carriage of dangerous goods is multifaceted, meaning that many ministries, professional sectors and organisations are involved, hence the complexity of this twinning which, although it actually belongs to the Moroccan Ministry of Transport, affects and requires collaboration and cooperation by other ministries and agencies of the Moroccan administration. Hence the complexity, the difficulty and the captivating nature of the project, which concerns a large part of the administration of a country, numerous professional and economic sectors and, best of all, affects all citizens. We must not forget that the ultimate objective is to make the carriage of dangerous goods safer, since these goods are transported at all hours, every day. Suffice to mention the carriage of gas bottles, which is very common in this country.
Therefore, taking into account the progress made with the project and aware of the difficulties entailed by legislative publications in all countries, we can confirm, without fear of error, that Morocco is at the starting point of the application of ADR in its territory, which will mean a very important added value for this country, and it will be the first country in this area to fully apply this agreement. This will help Morocco to become the first country in North Africa and the Atlantic façade to apply ADR to its internal transport, always adapted to the intrinsic characteristics of this territory.
The international scope of the project has facilitated the introduction of the Moroccan administration into the international groups of the United Nations where the details of the ADR rules are discussed, approved and debated. This will give Morocco the opportunity to discuss, propose, and understand the situation of this mode of transport in the rest of the countries that have signed the ADR agreement. In addition, it will enable Morocco to achieve an important, prominent status in its regional area, in particular, with regard to North African countries and the Mediterranean basin.
Thus, after effective application of the texts in Morocco, the country will be the leader of this type of transport in its region. All this will assist economic consolidation, consolidation of the road transport sector and, most of all, it will help to make transport safer, which will directly affect the citizens of this country, its infrastructures and the environment. Once again, cooperation will have provided a country with the necessary tools to drive economic and social development and good governance .