[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO]
UN Deputy Police Adviser Ann-Marie Orler visited Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire in October, in her first official trip since taking up her position in May.
During her 17 to 21 October visit to Liberia, Ms. Orler took part in a night patrol in Monrovia, accompanied by United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Police Commissioner, Henrik Stiernblad.
Ms. Orler visited police stations and depots in crime-prone areas of the capital, where she saw firsthand how UN police (UNPOL) personnel are working with their Liberian National Police (LNP) counterparts. Since 2004, UNMIL has been supporting the restructuring and training of the LNP, including rehabilitating and reconstructing police stations throughout the post-war nation.
Ms. Orler witnessed the infrastructural challenges facing rule of law institutions in post-war Liberia. She saw police officers using torches and candles due to lack of electricity as they carried out their work at night. At one police station, the team heard that the owner of the building was taking legal action to evict the police from the premises. The Deputy Police Adviser also held discussions with the LNP and UNPOL personnel on issues such as women and child detainees.
"UN and Liberian Police Officers are doing an excellent job in extremely tough conditions. It is critical that we improve the infrastructure in police stations in order to facilitate the work of the LNP and enable the implementation of UNPOL's mandate," Ms. Orler said.
Earlier this year, police personnel and stations in Liberia came under attack and an UNMIL-funded Quick Impact Project station was burnt down. LNP officers briefed the team about the mob violence, which had left police personnel injured.
Ms. Orler also held meetings with the UN Special Representative Ellen Margrethe Løj, Deputy Representative for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Liberian government officials and the Inspector General of LNP.
Ms. Orler visited Côte d'Ivoire from 21 to 25 October, where she focused on UNPOL's role during and after the upcoming elections. The presidential election has been postponed to 2009 due to technical difficulties registering voters. The election is intended to complete the peace process and help reunite the country after a civil war.
UNPOL has an authorized strength of 1,200 in Côte d'Ivoire, including six Formed Police Units. The Police Division is also ready to send a Standing Police Capacity team to assist the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) with its election security plan.
Ms. Orler also visited a newly reopened training centre in Grand-Bassam, le Centre régional de formation à la lutte contre la drogue (CRFLD), which will enhance police cooperation on a regional level to combat drug trafficking. The centre has just completed its first training program.
"I am pleased to see the training program established, it will form a solid basis for further regional police cooperation in the fight against organized crime," Ms. Orler said.
Ms. Orler and UNOCI Acting Police Commissioner, Pierre-André Campiche, participated in the UN Day Celebrations in Côte d'Ivoire.