23 September 2021
Posteado en : Interview
We spoke to Joaquín Plasencia García, Chief Inspector of the Spanish Policía Nacional and Team Leader of the project funded by the European Union and entitled "Promoting community policing in Lebanon". Plasencia offers his vision on the mission of the Lebanese National Police (also called Internal Security Forces) in the current context of the country. The project is managed by the FIIAPP.
We spoke to Joaquín Plasencia García, Chief Inspector of the Spanish Policía Nacional and Team Leader of the project funded by the European Union and entitled “Promoting community policing in Lebanon”. Plasencia offers his vision on the mission of the Lebanese National Police (also called Internal Security Forces) in the current context of the country. The project is managed by the FIIAPP.
What does the project aim to achieve?
The “Promoting community policing in Lebanon” project aims to introduce fundamental changes in the nature and culture of the police in Lebanon. Its main objective is to promote social cohesion through the transformation of the outdated concept of “Police Force” towards the more current and necessary concept of “Police at the Service of Citizens”. The aim of this transformation is to strengthen ties of trust and cooperation between citizens and the police, a relationship that has deteriorated during the latest political and social events that the country has been going through.
What situation is the Lebanese National Police operating in today?
The Lebanese National Police (ISF – Internal Security Forces as it is known in English) finds itself at a crossroads between the needs of the Lebanese people, the police service’s vocation to serve citizens, and the obeying of government orders.
The current situation of political, social, health and economic crisis that Lebanon is suffering increases citizens’ demands which require immediate responses and changes. The country is in an unprecedented crisis that, even for many, is worse than the one experienced during the civil war that ravaged the country between 1975 and 1990. In the face of great impoverishment, the Lebanese are left to subsist with the minimum to feed their families, secure medicine for their sick and meet their needs.
This reality is behind the increase in demonstrations in the streets, many of which have ended in violence. The recent clashes between police and protesters have left huge scars on both “sides”; on the one hand, some citizens are suffering the result of police action with arrests and injuries, but, on the other, some police officers have also ended up injured and incapacitated for days. To these physical injuries must be added the psychological and emotional burden that their duties entail, especially when they must confront family and friends at home.
ISF officers are men and women, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers of Lebanese people, who have seen how their profession, which they freely and voluntarily chose in order to “Serve and Protect”, is being decimated, and not only economically, like the rest of the country, but also as a public institution at the service of citizens. The recent demonstrations have in effect set up the police as the target of anger and frustration at the crisis and the corruption of their rulers.
How are the Lebanese police seen by the citizens? And in Spain?
The citizens do not trust national institutions and only the army enjoyed, until recently, a certain amount of their respect.
In Spain, the Sociological Research Centre (CIS) estimates that almost 55% of the population appreciates the work of the Guardia Civil and Policía Nacional. The Police, Guardia Civil and Army are one of the institutions best valued by citizens in Spain. In fact, the rise in citizen valuation reflected by the CIS seems to be endless. If, in 2013, the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía obtained a valuation of 5.65, in 2015 the Policía Nacional obtained a valuation of 5.95, while in 2016 it reached a valuation of 6.8 that leaves the valuation of previous years far behind. These positive results are only explained by the dedication to public service, professionalism and sacrifice of the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía. In the Policía Nacional in Spain the feeling of being an integral part of society is shared, not only with regards serving and protecting society, but also as regards understanding its demands and accepting constructive criticism so as to maintain, increase and never lose the trust of citizens.
What professional standards are required of members of the Lebanese internal security forces?
The professionalism of members of security forces is measured by excellence in their work, by loyalty to the institution to which they belong, and respect for the rule of law and Human Rights. But at the same time, it is also necessary to establish a special connection with citizens to offer them a quality service in the security sector.
If we have realised something over the time the FIIAPP community policing project has been underway, it is that the ISF is made up of professionals who are committed to citizens; to new and old generations that are pushing to introduce improvements in the organisation, through projects like ours that are trying to “Improve, Maintain and Never Lose the trust of citizens”.
Over the next 4 years of implementation we hope to be able to tell you about real and specific achievements resulting from our Community Policing Support Project.
18 July 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
Crisis and instability prevail in a complex time for Lebanon. We at FIIAPP are working with the country's institutions to support a local, community-friendly police model that respects human rights and the rule of law. Consuelo Navarro, coordinator of the "Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon” project and its human rights expert, Laia Castells, tell us about the current situation in the country and the progress being made in promoting cooperation despite the circumstances.
The FIIAPP and CIVIPOL “Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon” project is going according to plan despite the many difficulties and challenges currently facing the country.
The political, economic and social crisis continues to impact on Lebanon. Indeed, owing to the cost-cutting plan launched by the Government, the prices of basic products have risen drastically, not to mention the serious electrical crisis caused by the lack of gas and oil reserves, thus keeping the country mired in an increasingly worrying economic recession.
In recent days, the national electricity company, Electricidad del Líbano (EDL), has been forced to ration service throughout the day, causing long periods of power outages. There were particularly tense moments in Beirut in the first week in July on account of the limited and irregular 4 hours of electricity a day, while in other regions, such as Tripoli, people are receiving only 2 hours’ service a day. The private electricity companies, which are replacing the state electricity service in this time of cuts, are making generators and gensets available to the public. Nonetheless, these companies are likewise suffering from the shortages of the fuel necessary to keep them operational. Indeed, they have said they will be unable to maintain the level of supply demanded for much longer unless they are given access to a greater quantity of subsidised oil or gas.
Fuel cuts are also affecting the transport sector and internal travel around the country. Long queues of cars, trucks, motorcycles and vans are commonplace at petrol stations as they seek to buy a maximum of 10 litres of petrol or gas at prices way beyond the purchasing power of a sizeable portion of the local population on account of the current level of inflation of the Lebanese pound.
These power cuts and the lack of access to transport are making it very difficult for people to carry out any type of economic, political or social activity. Tensions and social anxiety are on the rise as street demonstrations increase with each passing day.
Despite these challenges, the Project and its team continue working to plan, adapting to the situation in the country, doing everything possible to maintain the level of commitment of all stakeholders through personal visits, telephone calls and, when the electricity permits, permanent online communication between team members and their national counterparts.
This commitment is readily attested to by the holding of the first Project Steering Committee Meeting virtually on 6 July from Beirut. This Project Work Plan launch meeting brought together over 30 representatives of Lebanese institutions and the entire FIIAPP and CIVIPOL team, made up of both field and Madrid-based members. The Steering Committee unanimously approved the work plan proposed, a real success story given the current, difficult state of affairs.
Consuelo Navarro, coordinator of the Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon project
Laia Castells, human rights expert for the Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon project