Crime rate soars in Somaliland

Somaliland is experiencing a significant uptick in crime, with about 5,000 more crimes reported in the past year than in the previous 12 months, according to an annual police report released this month.

“There have been 18,989 reported crimes [from November 2011 to October 2012], of which 4,514 were prosecuted in court while 7,990 were resolved using mediation,” said Mohamed Duale, operations chief of Somaliland police. He said 2,963 cases were dismissed and 3,522 are still under investigation, 1,500 of which were in Hargeisa.

Duale presented the police force’s annual report on November 3rd at a ceremony held at police headquarters in Hargeisa commemorating the 19th anniversary of the force’s formation.

He said the number of crimes reported in the past year has increased 30%, up from 14,506 during the previous 12 months.

Duale said common crimes in Somaliland include assault, gang violence, rape, robbery, theft, embezzlement and murder. There were 77 murder cases in the past year, Duale said, adding that police arrested 70 suspects in the deaths of 79 people, while nine suspects have evaded arrest.

The number of rape cases dropped by 26% in the same period (131 compared to 176 in the 2011 reporting period). Duale said 150 of the 162 accused rapists have appeared in court.

Car accidents as a result of traffic violations also went down by 105 cases in the past year, with 2,875 accidents resulting in 150 deaths and 1,440 people injured.

Somaliland police confiscated 20,045 litres of alcohol smuggled into the country to be sold on the black market, Duale said, adding that the region has experienced an influx of drugs smuggled in from neighbouring countries.

Police also seized counterfeit currency in the amounts of $10,250 and 2,700 Somaliland shillings, and arrested 14 suspects in connection to the crime, he said.

Statistics do not show full picture

Despite the high number of recorded crimes, retired police officer Obsiye Haji Abukar said the statistics do not give the full picture. “There may be other crimes that are not investigated by the police or are not reported to them, especially in rural areas,” he told Sabahi.

Mohamed Abdullahi Odowa, director of the Observatory of Conflict and Violence Prevention (OCVP), a Hargeisa-based agency that monitors conflict and the prevention of violence, said Somaliland needs more police.

“The police force has to increase to meet the population increase and the expansion of cities,” Odowa told Sabahi. He said poor education and high unemployment among youth, who are particularly at risk of criminal behaviour, are some of the underlying causes behind the spike in crime.

“If the problem is coming from the youth, rehabilitation programmes should be created for them such as keeping them busy with educational and sports activities and creating youth recreational centres,” Odowa said.

In September, OCVP released a report on a study conducted in several cities, including Burao, Las Anod, Bosaso and Mogadishu, that recommended public engagement through community policing.

“Community policing groups will have to be registered with the local police and will help authorities provide coverage in underserved areas,” Odowa said. “[Community policing groups] should be trained and the police should provide oversight and have open communication.”

Curbing crime and strengthening peace

Somaliland Minister of Interior Affairs Mohamed Nur Arale reiterated the importance of communication between police and the public at the police force’s anniversary ceremony.

“Somaliland does have enemies, but it is highly stable,” Arale said. “Any [danger that] exists can be overcome by co-operation between the police and the public.”

The administration plans to increase its efforts to strengthen and increase the police force, he said.

This year saw the highest number of high school graduate recruits with 365 young men trained at Mandera Police Training Academy, according to Arale. “Currently, 150 women are in training to fulfil their role in peace maintenance efforts,” he said.

Police are ready to fulfil their obligations day and night so the public can live in peace and stability, said Somaliland Police Chief Abdullahi Fadal Iman.

“The police currently operate in 75 stations and 91 substations throughout the regions of Somaliland,” Iman said.

He said that this year the police destroyed 4,150 explosive devices and held public awareness rallies about peace attended by about 25,000 citizens.

Courtesy:  Sabahi Online

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