18 June 2020
Here we interview Julio Bueno, Police Inspector and expert in crowd management for the MYPOL project in Myanmar
The specialist talks to us about how the MYPOL project has worked together with the Myanmar National Police. MYPOL is a project managed by the FIIAPP and financed by the European Commission, which aims to modernise and improve the institutional capacity of the police forces in Myanmar, promoting gender equality and respect for human rights.
Could you explain what the MYPOL project consists of, its objectives and the part that Crowd Control plays in it?
The general objective of the project is to contribute to the modernisation of the Myanmar Police through a more preventive, balanced and professional approach, based on international best practice, with special attention to the respect for human rights. Specifically, it intends to contribute to an effective, efficient and responsible Police Service; one that is trusted by the different communities.
From the point of view of the Police’s operational functions, the project aims to support the development of a public service police model, including a special gender sensitivity, in three main areas: proximity police; investigation units, which we know in Spain as judicial police and scientific police; and finally crowd control, understood in a general sense, focused on public security.
Regarding crowd control in particular, the expected result of the project is literally “to strengthen the capacity of the Myanmar Police to handle different types of crowds in accordance with international human rights standards.” Here, the term “crowds” does not just refer to demonstrations or concentrations. The legal concept of a crowd in Myanmar is the gathering or coincidence of five or more people in any location. In this sense, we have fully adapted to the legislation and the situation in Myanmar to develop a programme that leads to fulfilment of the project objective.
What are the differences between Myanmar’s crowd management system and that of Spain?
There are many differences between the Myanmar and Spanish systems. To begin with, in Spain there are two national and several autonomous bodies that carry out these functions, in Myanmar there is a single police force that performs all of them. Spain shifted to a public service model more than twenty years ago. This process is now taking its first steps in Myanmar, based on a military model, led by military commanders. In general, in citizen security, the Myanmar Police is evolving to a public service model similar to the Spanish one, starting from a model based on surveillance and the occupation of key places.
As for the model of public order, or crowd control in the sense of control of demonstrations and concentrations, the Spanish model and that of Myanmar are very different. Spain adopted a flexible and mobile model that is common in Mediterranean countries. Myanmar originally followed a model inherited from the colonial administration, of British origin, and during the project prior to this, the British model was chosen again, with training from Belgian, British, German and Polish police officers.
For this project, one of the mandatory initial conditions was not to change the system chosen in the previous project. To improve it and create a solid, legal and operational foundation that is both efficient and long-lasting, I chose the UN standard system, taught by trainers who are UN-trained and qualified in these techniques and systems.
And what are the differences and similarities between the units that carry out crowd management in Spain and in Myanmar?
The first and main difference is the number of police corps there are. The Myanmar police carry out the functions carried out in Spain by the National Police, Civil Guard, regional police, local police, port police and the customs surveillance service. The Myanmar police is military in its origin and structure, many of its top officers come directly from military units, without specific police training.
The so-called security crowd control units have many more functions in Myanmar and have a similar structure, organised in districts and patrols. Another big difference is the available means, equipment, transportation, which are very scarce. Although some units are similar in structure and functions, the training is very different, especially in the lower echelons, where they are much better prepared in Spain, with more specific and longer training.
Regarding gender equality in the organisation, the case of Myanmar is very unusual when compared to that of Spain. In Spain there are no restrictions on women’s access to any position and services and there are also active policies to promote integration. In Myanmar, female presence in the organisation is similar to that of Spain, around 13%, but they do not have access to special public order units. However, in the special police unit, with which we also work, female presence is high and very active, without restrictions, while in Spain and other western countries it is very low or does not exist. Despite the differences, difficulties and a certain resistance to change, the general trend is towards full future integration.
What are the challenges of carrying out this type of reinforcement in a place like Myanmar?
Myanmar is a country that has been isolated from the world for many years, with a culture and values which are very different and are deeply-rooted. The biggest challenge has been winning the trust of the institutions and gradually showing the benefits of the new models and systems. Difficulties in communication, from a cultural and organisational point of view, have always been present.
Exclusively from the police point of view, the strong hierarchical structure and the need to follow a rigid chain of command for any initiative have been a challenge and a difficulty from day one, but I think the project has managed to adapt, like all of its staff, and overcome these difficulties as much as possible.
And what are the main challenges the country faces in order to consolidate a reform of the Myanmar police?
There are all kinds of problems and difficulties in carrying out and consolidating a police reform. We must bear in mind that the country is in the middle of a debate regarding its own nature, with federalist proposals that could completely change the scenario. The armed forces, which control the Interior Ministry and a quarter of the parliament, are an essential actor in any process.
In addition to these political problems we have the presence of numerous terrorist and criminal groups in the peripheral regions: very powerful organised crime, among others. In relation to gender equality, there is still a long way to go to achieve the full integration of women in all units and levels of the structure, without restrictions. How these problems are solved will shape the administration model, and therefore the resulting police model.
What does international cooperation contribute to the project in terms of security?
The main benefit of international cooperation is to share the experience of people from different parts of the world, who in turn have extensive experience in missions and projects, which provides a global vision of the problems, and over time, a similar approach to such circumstances. International cooperation spreads internationally accepted values and techniques, which therefore have the support of international institutions and the support of members of the international community.
In terms of security, international cooperation ensures the implementation of these standards, such as international best practices and respect for human rights, giving international support to countries that have decided to undertake reforms in this regard, and that have also decided to accept help from international organisations or institutions to carry out such reforms.
For matters related to security, asking for international cooperation is a very useful instrument for countries that want to carry out reforms, but have internal resistance or other problems, such as cultural or economic, that make them difficult to implement.
What are the exchanges like between the Spanish and Myanmar Public Administrations within the framework of this project?
The Spanish Public Administrations have supported this project from the outset, in the first placeby assigning two members of the National Police Corps as Project Team Leaders, in successive assignments, and a main expert for the crowd control component that has been the same from the beginning of the project.
The National Police Corps has in several occasions sent another six members of the corps on assignment for some of the activities that have been carried out, most of these with extensive international experience in UN and EU missions. Institutional support has been essential for the proper development of the activities that have been carried out so far.
How can the citizens of Myanmar benefit from this project?
Citizens are the main customers of the police service. Shifting the orientation of the police function towards public service, and the fact that it is based on better international standards and respect for human rights, represent a clear benefit for any society.
In the particular case of Myanmar, a clear change has been seen in the way in which many conflicts are resolved, with a very significant reduction in the use of violence and an increase in police dialogue with social actors. This is something completely new in Myanmar, for which MYPOL and the previous project are largely responsible. Our work has driven change at many levels, from individual behaviour, to unit structure, to the creation of new units.
A good example of this is the Maritime Police, which has enthusiastically participated in various activities, supporting the project at all times. According to their manager, the mere fact of carrying out visible training activities in the port of Yangon has considerably reduced crime in the area, including robberies and contraband, among others.
25 October 2018
Javier Navarro, National Police inspector and technical expert on the FIIAPP programme to support the Bolivian special force fighting drug trafficking, shows us in this interview how complicated it is to pursue the production and illegal trafficking of coca leaf in Bolivia, where it is grown and consumed legally
How do people see the coca leaf in Bolivia?
The production and consumption of coca leaves are deeply rooted in society and its customs. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has acknowledged that there are 20,000 ha of coca plants being grown in two main areas: Las Yungas, in the department of La Paz, and Chapare, in the tropical region of Cochabamba. Producers are registered and are entitled to grow one “cato” of coca (1,600m2). The coca leaf they grow then goes to a cooperative and from there onto the legal market, either for personal consumption, called “picheo”, i.e., balls of coca leaves are put into the mouth and the juice sucked out of them, or for coca mate, sweets and other products. All that comes from these areas is considered legal cultivation. The Government also has to manage the eradication of coca leaves in places where their cultivation is not authorised.
How does it become illegal?
Logically, not all the production goes onto the legal market; some of it follows parallel routes and is used to make coca paste. The paste is the result of adding other elements to the coca to produce cocaine hydrochloride.
Also, it should be remembered that Bolivia is not only a producer, it is also a transit country, as paste arrives from Peru, another producing country that has some 45,000 ha of coca cultivation.
So, what is the profile of a coca leaf producer in Bolivia?
It is, purely and simply, that of a farmer, who, with one “cato” of coca, earns just enough to make a modest living. That is the reality and what I see. Can this coca leaf subsequently be processed or go to an illegal market? It may do, but the producer par excellence does not have the profile of a trafficker.
The producers produce it as part of their basic subsistence economy, to live decently with their families, and producers are different from traffickers. Maybe this would be the smallest link, the lowest on the chain, where a producer is making it illegally.
What resources does Bolivia have to prevent illegal trafficking?
The government has the Bolivian police force, especially the Special Forces to Combat Drug Trafficking, a vital ally in the fight against drug trafficking. These are special squads that are found all over Bolivia and they try to prevent drug trafficking from intensifying.
What is the role of the project in this network?
The project tries to provide support and strengthen departments and institutions linked with drug trafficking by bolstering their skill sets through technical assistance (legal, protocol, manuals), for which we co-opt experts in the short term from the National Police and Civil Guard in addition to French experts. The latter give assistance in very specialised areas, to strengthen the aspects that they consider necessary. Specifically, five themes are dealt with: criminal investigation, intelligence, borders and airports, and related crimes (money laundering and people trafficking and smuggling).
What are the prospects for the future?
The project is solid and well established; in fact, it is the institutions that turn to it so that they can become stronger in the areas they consider the weakest. This year, we have been working on all the areas to consolidate them and strongly reinforce them and next year will see the final implementation.
We also hope that, logically, when this first part of the project ends there can be a second part, as this would be very important, so that we could continue to strengthen these areas and move forward and improve all the Bolivian institutions.
28 June 2018
Posteado en : Reportage
The revolutions in North Africa and in the Middle East initiated democratic reforms, but also left space for threats such as terrorism. In both cases, cooperation has played and continues to play a determining role
In 2011, people took to the streets of the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab world called for democracy and rights in their countries through popular protests that were included in the concept of Arab Spring. Seven years later, the changes are not entirely noteworthy. Armed conflicts and terrorism have curtailed many of those expectations. However, political, economic and social reforms were initiated, which in some cases continue to develop at a slower pace.
These are processes in which cooperation has played and can play a determining role, contributing experiences from other countries that have gone through similar situations or confronting threats that slow down development. In this context of transition, several projects in the region are managed by FIIAPP with European Union funding. Those that have to do with justice and security particularly stand out.
Tunisia was the first country where revolution was mentioned. Since then, “there has been a first democratic election, a constituent government and an approval of the Constitution in 2014”. This was explained by Ángel Llorente, coordinator of the project to accompany judicial reform in the country that ends this year. The objective has been to carry out “an organisational reform as a consequence of the process of democratic transition” in the Ministry of Justice. And to create from there an independent judiciary that had never existed in Tunisia.
Despite some resistance that could have meant a step backwards, Llorente believes that civil society will not let that happen: “They are very aware of their rights, I think it is very difficult that they could now give up something that has cost them a lot to achieve”. An enthusiasm that reminds him of Spain a few years ago.
EuroMed Justice IV is also committed to improving judicial systems. In this case, in the southern region of the Mediterranean. Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Syria are working together with the Spanish and French Ministries of Justice to create an efficient, democratic system that respects human rights and is consistent with international regulations .
In its fourth phase, the project is also part of the EU’s neighbourhood strategy. Most of these countries are included in the European Neighbourhood Policy, which was revised precisely in the context of the Arab world revolutions to provide better support in their democratic transitions. After all, its main objective is to strengthen relations with neighbouring countries in the community space, based on common values – democracy, human rights and the rule of law – and to promote greater economic integration, mobility and stability.
Relationships that, in the case of EuroMed Justice IV seek a necessary international judicial cooperation, according to Victoria Palau, coordinator of the project. “There are problems, such as terrorism, cybercrime and human trafficking, that, if not resolved at the regional level, are impossible to address,” she says. In this context, the project witnessed the first declaration of collaboration between European public prosecutors and the Mediterranean countries, to work together to address these problems.
Judicial cooperation is also one of the components of the project for the application of the Rule of Law in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, the objective of which is to fight against security threats. In particular, it works to improve the capabilities of the intelligence services, the security forces, and the prosecutors and courts.
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Yemen and Djibouti are the countries that benefit from this project funded through the Instrument for Stability and Peace (IcSP). What happens in these countries, even if they are not included in the neighbouring region of the EU, does affect the continent.
In addition, it is an example of how terrorist groups take advantage of moments of political instability to act. “When there is a power vacuum, these groups always try to sneak in with more or less success,” says Javier Vega, project coordinator. In the end, terrorism is an increasingly global threat with an important focus in this geographical área.
The key is to act regionally so that it does not spread to the rest of the world. For example, by controlling the territory as is also done in the Sahel region – through the Rapid Action Groups – and in Niger, more focused on illegal immigration.
The European Security Agenda underlines the need to take measures to deal with this threat in a more effective and comprehensive way, including the international community and cooperation projects. One of the latter, also managed by FIIAPP, focuses specifically on the fight against terrorism in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa).
Work that, according to Mariano Guillén, director of the Justice and Security Area with FIIAPP, also seeks to “strengthen the political dialogue within the Arab League”, to favour cooperation among the countries of the region. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Palestine are the countries that, despite their political, economic and social differences, work to find common responses to terrorism. “The terrorist threat does not distinguish the levels of development in the countries and it can only be attacked through cooperation,” says Mariano Guillén.
The instability of the changes leaves room for security threats that do not recognise borders. But the same changes are necessary if we see them as an opportunity to improve, as a good time to draw on similar experiences while working together on those problems that affect us all.
16 November 2017
Posteado en : Reportage
The European Commission Programme aims to give technical assistance to countries to guarantee the safety of their citizens
In Latin America there are 23 homicides for every 100 thousand inhabitants. This figure is double the amount for Africa and five times the amount recorded in Asia. What’s more, with only 9 per cent of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for more than 30 per cent of the violent killings committed worldwide each year.[i]
Many of these are related to organised crime. This is one of the reasons why the sense of insecurity experienced by citizens has increased in recent years, making it a priority for these countries.
For many years, different policies to combat organised crime were tried out in Latin America. Some were repressive and others more moderate (such as “mano dura” or “iron fist” and the converse “mano blanda” approach applied in Guatemala from 2007 to 2015), with the feeling that the problem was not effectively dealt with. The reasons are many and varied, but the periodical and “short-term” nature of these policies may explain their ineffectiveness. One of the main lessons learned was the correct use of more global and long-lasting policies to identify and end insecurity in the region.
This is where EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene. A European Commission programme with pioneering content as it is the first time the whole criminal justice chain is dealt with as a whole. More specifically, it focuses on three areas (police, judicial and fiscal and the prison system) with five transversal work focuses (cyber crime, corruption, human rights, gender and money laundering) and the inclusion of two intrinsically linked projects (AMERIPOL and another project managed by Interpol). It is, therefore, an ambitious and complex project which will try to tackled the problem of organised crime in the most global and effective way possible by providing technical assistance to 18 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).
The International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and Expertise France (EF) coordinate the project along with two partners, the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA) and the Camoes Institute.
The Programme will facilitate peer learning, South-South cooperation and the transfer of best European practices, and will be focused on public administrations. To do this, it will have the support of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary, Ministry of the Interior via the Civil Guard, National Police and Prison Institutions, Ministry of Justice, the Public Prosecutor and their analogues in France, Italy and Portugal.
EL PAcCTO seeks to create concrete guides and tools for international action, approval and cooperation, both regionally and between Latin American countries and EU Member States. This way, it aims to eliminate border using legal and technical solutions that make Latin America a free and safe space united against organised crime.
The Programme is trying to respond now to all of the urgent demands from the countries because the aim of the programme is to build a safer society which benefits everyone. This is why it is important to increase social awareness about the dangers of organised crime. It is a matter of great importance to guarantee people’s rights, freedom and lives.
[i] Highest murder rates in the world by city (2016), World Atlas. Available at http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world.html
María Jesús Martín is a Communication Technician at EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene.
03 September 2015
The head of FIIAPP's Security and Justice team explains the Foundation's work in the fight against drug trafficking and the EU's anti-terrorism efforts.
Ensuring the security of citizens is a major objective in FIIAPP’s work. All over the world, the Foundation develops cooperation projects funded by the European Commission in the areas of security, the fight against drug trafficking, the eradication of terrorism and money laundering, and the prevention of natural disasters and nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical threats.
The experience exchanges it facilitates between European Union member states and the beneficiaries result in changes to laws, regulations and working strategies that enable the receptor countries to offer a more secure life to their citizens.
In this conversation, Ana Hernández fills us in on the details of the work of the Foundation in the fight against drug trafficking and other areas in this sector, and how the European Union, in response to the current context, has put the focus on preventing radicalisation and terrorism.
Where is FIIAPP’s work concentrated in terms of illegal drug trafficking and why?
We are focused mainly on the ‘Cocaine Route’, which theoretically runs from Latin America to Europe, through Africa; and on the ‘Heroin Route’, which runs from Afghanistan and has one branch through Asia and another through the Black Sea. These are the two routes we concentrate on for developing projects, because the Commission is focused on these two routes.
What do we do there?
Right now we have many types of projects. In the ‘Cocaine Route’, we have projects focused both on ports and container control, and on fighting money laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking. In Latin America, through AMERIPOL, we are also trying to create a new police network in Latin America. This means applying a global approach to the fight against drug trafficking. In the ‘Heroin Route’, we’ve also been working on human trafficking and on the creation of information networks so that police forces can exchange information and conduct monitoring.
Are more and more projects of this type being funded?
The European Union has a very powerful security strategy right now and is funding large projects. What we’ve observed is that they are funding large-scale projects: they want various member countries to join together to develop these projects with a more global approach to contribute their experience, along with Spain, to other countries—for example, Ghana or Venezuela—with very different idiosyncrasies, so that they can benefit from this knowledge. In the end, this means creating networks, creating links, learning together. Often, when it’s our policies or our civil guards that are going to these countries, you realise that there are many things over there that they can learn from, and synergies and good relationships end up being created.
Is the EU starting to work in new areas?
Lately they are focusing on issues related to terrorism. Large-scale programmes are being launched to fight terrorism, and radicalisation is being attacked. The EU is realising the great power terrorist groups have in communication media, on the Internet, and in all these networks, for getting their messages out, and that many people who were not radical are becoming radicalised, being recruited… So they’re making a great effort in this area. In fact, one of the large projects for which we have submitted a proposal recently is specifically on the issue of radicalisation. Although it’s also true that this aspect is included in all terrorism projects.
Another issue being addressed increasingly in Europe is cybercrime. It’s an issue which is rising in importance and which, evidently, is being developed increasingly and has great potential.
And, lastly, the EU is working on the fight against money laundering. This is also important because of its role in financing terrorism and organised crime. The fight against money-laundering and financing networks, which in the end is what feeds these groups, is also a way of eradicating this problem.
27 April 2015
Posteado en : Radio
April 26th is World Intellectual Property Day. We at the FIIAPP are marking the day by talking about the EU-financed project we are managing in Ukraine for strengthening their intellectual property system.
Since April 2014, we have been managing an EU-financed cooperation project, also referred to as a twinning, in Ukraine which aims to address the market for pirated and counterfeit goods there. The country is plagued by intellectual property crimes ranging from illegal downloading of movies to counterfeiting of medicines.
Under the umbrella of this project, Spanish and Danish experts on the subject will show their work protocols to the Ukrainians. The ultimate objective is to provide greater security to citizens of the country and reduce the current levels of impunity. Results are being achieved already. One of them is the draft law on “Copyright protection on the Internet”.
Learn about the project in detail by listening to our weekly radio show on Radio 5 (RNE), ‘Public cooperation around the world’. Our two cents worth in celebration of World Intellectual Property Day.