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Australian Federal Police

Australian police have contributed to PKOs since 1964. This has been primarily through the AFP (and one of its predecessors the Commonwealth Police). Present budget provision exists for 20 personnel to be deployed. Apart from this, no capacity exists within Australian police services, and in particular the AFP, to respond to UN requirements without supplementation. Police strengths in Australia are set by respective Australian and state/territory governments based on their own jurisdictional requirements and priorities. They are presently unable to maintain reserve capabilities.

A response to UN requests must, therefore, have an impact on the ability of police services to perform their primary roles. The extent of this impact depends on the commitment required, the length of time of an operation, and the ability of the respective police services to supplement their resources during the deployment period.

The AFP has been able to respond to modest demands from within its own resources as long as the government has been able to fund the contribution. The level of response, putting aside the Cyprus contingent, would be up to 40 – 50 personnel for a short term. Any rotation of these personnel would require the recruitment of new members.

Beyond this level, the AFP would be required to seek the assistance of state/territory police. While this increases the ‘pool' of resources available to about 40,000 personnel, it needs to be recognised that a similar impact would be felt on ongoing operations and financial supplementation would be crucial to enable respective governments to positively consider requests.

A further dimension which complicates the participation of state and territory police services, apart from their financial and policing priorities, is the need to establish a single command structure with common terms and conditions and effective multi disciplined teams to represent Australia. This can involve up to seven industrial jurisdictions as well as different employment regimes.

At the outset of UNTAC, the UN asked the Australian Government to consider the deployment of 75 police personnel. In view of the length of time it was expected that the operation would take, and the number of personnel involved, a planning process which provided for state and territory participation along with the AFP, was undertaken. Each of the above issues was addressed and while not formally approached, each Australian jurisdiction positively responded to the request for personnel, subject to the Australian government or the UN meeting all costs associated with the deployment (including the payment of the salaries). A single command and control, common training, and specific conditions of service were also agreed upon.

Ultimately, it was decided that Australia's contribution would be the deployment of 10 personnel which was met by the AFP. In agreeing to this, the government and the UN also met the total cost of the deployment.

In considering future requests, the UN needs to consider financing the deployment of police personnel on a similar basis to that of the military. This would be consistent with the need for such participation to be recognised, and funded, by the international community through the UN.

Principal functions of modern police peacekeeping - PKO's

The long term success of a peacekeeping operation will be judged by the length of time peace can be sustained, regardless of whether mission objectives were achieved. In time, the significance of achieving mandate goals will blur, if the rule of law collapses again. Analysis of the problem and planning for the future are considered essential elements for longer term peace.

The utilisation of professional police, who maintain peace on a daily basis within their home jurisdictions, can only add value to the process of peacekeeping. I consider it apt to conclude with, and commend, six principal functions of a modern police service, which are considered appropriate within the context of contemporary, international peacekeeping:

  • Maintain the public peace.
  • Uphold the rule of law and due process.
  • Protect and provide assistance to all citizens.
  • Facilitate the democratic rights and freedoms of all citizens.
  • Reduce the fear of crime and disorder.;
  • Cooperate with others to ensure a just, stable and orderly society.

AFP assessment for participation in PKOs

The AFP assesses its participation in UN missions in accordance with principles for deployment, which are:

  • Clear and achievable goals. AFP experience in UN missions indicates that the most important aspect of UN operations is that they have a clear mandate with realistic and achievable goals.
  • Clear timetable. 34 years of continuous commitment in Cyprus highlights the need for a clear timetable within which to achieve objectives. In contrast, subsequent deployments have achieved outcomes within set time limits.
  • Supportable and sustainable commitment. The AFP assessment is that it could provide and support up to 40 or 50 police personnel (excluding Cyprus) on short term missions.
  • Minimum but effective force to achieve the goals. In accordance with AFP principles of deployment, an assessment of minimum personnel to achieve the goals of the mission is critical to the proposed involvement in missions. Generally, it is preferable that police support be through small but highly skilled units formed specifically for each mission and task. Support is therefore only recommended if the skills of police meet the task requirements of the mission.
  • Acceptable level of risk to police personnel. While police have been deployed to high-risk-level missions in the past, the degree of risk for each mission is assessed to ensure that adequate protection is provided to police. This may be in the form of UN military or local police/military and extends to the provision of body armour.

Therefore, subject to missions satisfactorily meeting the above criteria and funding being provided, the AFP is prepared to positively respond to requests for assistance with UN missions.

In our submissions to government and parliamentary committees, the AFP has noted the growing need for civilian police in UN operations. The objectives established for a police presence in a peacekeeping operation need to include not only the additional patrol, liaison and use of investigative skills, but also to extend to the rebuilding, or building, of a criminal justice infrastructure in a country.

The AFP is well placed from the depth of its skills which have been developed through its overseas liaison role, national and community policing responsibilities, and policing in previous UN missions, to effectively contribute to future PKOs.

Present and previous AFP deployments

United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)

Australian police have been part of UNFICYP since its inception in 1964, when it was established by the UN with a three month mandate to bring an end to hostilities and promote a peaceful solution on the island. Initially, more than 6000 British, Irish, Swedish, Canadian, Austrian and Finnish troops and almost 200 police from Australia, Austria, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden were deployed to various locations in Cyprus. The initial contingent of 40 police from police services around Australia was deployed in May 1964. It has been a long three months!

An island-wide demarcation line, commonly referred to as the ‘Green Line' or ‘Buffer Zone' now separates the two factions. At its closest point in the capital city of Nicosia, it is several metres wide, and at its furthest, in rural Cyprus, is several kilometres wide.

There are police agencies on both sides of the buffer zone. Turkish Cypriot Police take responsibility for the areas north of the buffer zone, while Cyprus Police, not withstanding their constitutional responsibilities for the whole country, are responsible for the area south of the buffer zone.

Since the commencement of the mission, UNFICYP has changed considerably, with many of the contributing nations either withdrawing or reducing the size of their commitment. The number of peacekeepers at present is approximately 1300. This is dramatically lower than what was initially deployed, but is a slight increase from 1996, following further bi-communal unrest.

The buffer zone is split into three sectors. Sector 1 is the western section of the buffer zone to a point slightly west of Nicosia. Sector 2 incorporates the buffer zone and main check-point at Ledra Palace in Nicosia, with Sector 4 incorporating the buffer zone east of Nicosia and extending to the eastern edge of the country.

The AFP continues to provide 20 personnel on rotation to Cyprus. Although the police commitment has been in place for 34 years, its involvement is continually being assessed in accordance with the renewal of each six month mandate.

Our police role in Cyprus can be likened to community policing without the normal recourse of arrest and presentation of evidence in a court of law. Because of the sensitive political situation, UNFICYP command is reluctant to permit its personnel to appear in a Cypriot court.

The UN does not formally recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus', and therefore cannot recognise the jurisdiction of its courts. Offences which occur in the United Nations Protected Area (UNPA) or the buffer zone are, after initial investigation, usually dealt with administratively or handed over to the police agency responsible for the person involved. So, if a Greek Cypriot was thought to be involved in a criminal offence in the buffer zone, the UN police would investigate the matter, then refer it to the Cyprus police and apply political pressure to resolve it, and in the case of a Turkish Cypriot — vice versa. Where criminal offences are concerned, the peacekeeping role is largely one of liaison and negotiation with local police to obtain a satisfactory solution and ensure a fair outcome. If the matter has implications which could affect the status quo, police investigations must be sufficient to enable UNFICYP command to intervene with confidence.

United Nations Border Relief Operation (UNBRO)

In early 1989, two AFP superintendents were seconded to work with UNBRO in Aranyaprathet, in north-eastern Thailand, to assist the UN and the Thai government to improve security and protection of 300,000 displaced Cambodians located in refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodia border.

The main border camp, site two, was situated 80km from Aranyaprathet and contained 200,000 displaced persons in 7km2. Other camps representing the various factions to the conflict were spread along Thailand's border with Cambodia. Until early 1990, the road to these camps were subjected to guerrilla attacks and movement was limited to armed convoys. In addition, the camps themselves often came under rocket or artillery attack. Initially, a high level of lawlessness existed in the refugee camps resulting in numerous violent crimes.

The breakdown in law and order was addressed with the eventual training of Khmer Police, the establishment of committees of justice and a central jail. This was accomplished with the permission of the government of Thailand and the cooperation of each of the factions.

Achievements of the AFP members with UNBRO include: establishing, training and equipping a 1267 strong police force of Cambodia refugees; convincing competing political parties or influential groups to support the police; establishing a traditional Cambodian court system; establishing a prison system; and writing a criminal code and regulations for the police, the court and the prisons.

United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC)

In May 1992, 10 AFP members were deployed to Phnom Penh to participate within the peacekeeping force. On arrival, the contingent was briefed and deployed to Banteay Meanchey Province, an area which was described as the liberated zone, that is, under shared command of Cambodia factions including the Khmer Rouge.

The UN forces in the area were, accordingly, responsible directly to UNTAC (including to the police commissioner) in Phnom Penh. The contingent was deployed with an attachment of five German border police and six Tunisian police who were placed under the command of the AFP superintendent. The group was later increased by the attachment of eight Indian and eight French police who had previously been deployed to another location.

The patrol area of the group extended to the Thailand border, adjacent to the refugee camps where the UN Border Relief Operation (UNBRO) had forged good relations with Khmer camp police. The patrol area took in approximately 2500km2. The contingent was briefed to: establish a UN police presence in the area; investigate human rights violations and report on such to UN command (during the period July 1, 1992 to August 15, 1993, about 205 cases, involving the death or injury of 355 people were investigated by contingent members); bring about an environment of calm and confidence conducive to the holding of free elections, planned for May 1993; control and supervise the factionalised local police; and provide training and development for local police within their area of responsibility. (The AFP trained 438 police, including 12 police women from all factions. This represented 42.9 per cent of the total police personnel in the Thmar Pouk district).

UNTAC was the first UN operation that included large numbers of police. Some 3600 police from 45 countries contributed to the work of UNTAC. The questionable quality of training, skills and preparedness of a number of contingents led to criticism being levelled against police in Cambodia, and indeed to the UN establishing a more rigid selection criteria for police personnel. While the police were deployed throughout Cambodia and were briefed generally on what their role was to be, they were not given specific objectives or targets, nor initially supported properly from a logistics perspective.

The first contingent was replaced by a further 10 AFP members in February 1993. In addition to this commitment, police fingerprint experts from NSW, Victoria and Queensland were also deployed to assist with supervision of the elections.

United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II)

In May 1993, one superintendent was seconded to UNOSOM II to the post of senior police adviser to the special representative of the secretary general. The task was to provide advice on the need for police monitors, and where possible, organise the development and training of a civilian police authority in Somalia.

In November 1993, a second superintendent was appointed as the director of police services and deputy director of justice in Somalia. The task of the director was to control and direct UN police to assist in the re-establishment of the Somali Police at local and regional levels in order to restore peace, stability and law and order. Unfortunately, staff were not provided to assist in this role and the mission struggled to achieve its objectives. At a late stage of the mission police trainers were provided by various contributing countries, but it was a case of too little too late. It was unrealistic to provide civilian police while at the same time withdrawing military personnel.

United Nations Mission in Mozambique (UNOMOZ)

Following the Rome Agreement, the UN security council established the UN Operation in Mozambique (UNOMOZ), with a mandate to verify the demobilisation and disarmament of forces and the withdrawal of foreign troops, to assist and monitor the organisation of elections and to coordinate humanitarian assistance. Part of UNOMOZ was to be made up of civilian police. The security council authorised a police component of 1144 personnel on February 23, 1994.

The mandate of the UNOMOZ police component (CIVPOL) was:

  • To monitor all police activities in the country, including those of the Mozambique National Police and any other police and security agencies and verify that their actions were fully consistent with the general peace agreement.
  • To monitor the respect of rights and liberties of Mozambican citizens throughout the country.
  • To provide technical support to the National Police Commission.
  • To verify that the activities of private protection and security agencies do not violate the general peace agreement.
  • To verify the strength and location of the government police forces, their material, as well as any other information which might be needed in support of the peace process.
  • To monitor and verify the process of the reorganisation and retraining of the ‘quick reaction police' and their activities, as well as to verify their weapons and equipment.
  • To monitor, together with other UNOMOZ components, the proper conduct of the electoral campaign and verify that political rights of individuals, groups and political organisations are respected in accordance with the general peace agreement and relevant electoral documents.

The AFP committed a 16-member contingent for deployment to Mozambique. They were dispersed across the country in areas ranging from headquarters to police posts, undertaking tasks ranging from regional and provincial commanders, to investigations and operations officers. The contingent was withdrawn in December 1994.

Multinational Force to Haiti

The Australian government was requested by the US to support them in their tasking to restore democracy in Haiti. The AFP supported the multi-national force with 30 members comprising both male and female members from the AFP, Victoria Police and Queensland Police Service.

The contingent was deployed in November 1994 to a small coastal village called Jeramie and returned at the mission's end in March 1995.

The broad mission statement for the international police monitors was to monitor and mentor the Interim Police Security Force (IPSF) which continued until midday of March 14, 1995 when the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) police personnel took over authority and responsibility.

Confidence was restored within the community of the region, so that they were able to report matters without fear of retribution from the IPSF.

Truce Monitoring Group — Bougainville

Following peace talks in Burnham, New Zealand in October 1997, four AFP members were deployed to Bougainville as part of the Truce Monitoring Group. The role of monitors was to observe and monitor; investigate any breach; liaise; facilitate the peace process; discourage any potential breach of the truce; and report any breach of the truce.

The TMG concluded at midnight on April 30 and was replaced with a Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). The AFP maintains two police monitors in Bougainville. The role of the PMG incorporates: recording, locating and arranging disposal of all arms, ammunition and explosives and other such material; to monitor and report on compliance of parties to the ceasefire; to promote and instil confidence in the peace process; to provide information to Bougainvilleans about the peace process/ceasefire; to provide such assistance in restoration and development consistent with the Lincoln Agreement as the parties may agree; to assist with the development and training and institution of a Bougainvillean constabulary; and to assist with other matters as may be agreed by the other parties which will assist with the democratic resolution of the conflict.


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