Monday November 30 2020

Security experts from the six member countries of the East African Community (EAC) convened in Dar es Salaam for a three-day meeting on November 24-26, 2020. The meeting was the latest effort in further attempts to consolidate harmonisation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for policing within the regional economic bloc comprising the partner states of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda – listed here strictly in alphabetical order, and on no other merit.

The three-day meeting in Tanzania is part of the implementation of the 2011 directive by EAC’s Sectoral Council on Interstate Security to develop policing SOPs intended to bolster harmonisation of policing within the EAC nations. Generally, SOPs are a set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organisation to help workers carry out routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with pertinent regulations.

In the year 2011, the Third Sectoral Council of the EAC on Interstate Security established a group of experts to commence work on the harmonisation of policing SOPs as part and parcel of the process of standardising and professionalising policing practices within the regional integration bloc.

In that regard, police and other security officers would be trained to strengthen their crimes investigation and prevention capacities, in so far as it relates to effectively combatting narcotics and human trafficking, as well as migrants smuggling, and cybercrime.

One way of effectively doing this is to develop a harmonised curriculum on this component of regional cooperation and integration into a fully-fledged East African Federation – complete with a single Federal Government, Federal Legislature and Federal Judiciary.


Transnational organised crime

To that noble end, the EAC Peace and Security Unit is developing SOPs for jointly combating transnational organised crime in four broad areas, namely, Harmonisation of Laws; Common Procedures in Information-Sharing and Standards; Common Operating Procedures, and Functional Training.

The Dar es Salaam meeting last week was part of regional efforts towards harmonisation of Standard Operating Procedures for policing. It was indeed intended to finalise the SOPs on Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Investigations – ‘cyber’ being a relatively new phenomenon in this day and age of rapid technological advances.

The meeting was designed to enrich the newly-developed SOPs on Training (Senior Command/Higher Policing institutions) and Regional Traffic Management; Community Policing and Social Media; Training for Police Promotional Courses; Emergency Response and Fire Safety Procedures, as well as Anti-Narcotic Drugs Procedures.

Currently, the benchmark exercise is premised on sharing challenges in the fields of investigations, identifying gaps and constraints and packaging together the identified/suggested solutions for regional harmonisation.

National Police and other security organs should not – nay; cannot – be left behind or out of the integration processes. This is especially because they play a significant role in one way/form or another in the free cross-border movement of people, goods and services across the region.

Besides, this is in harmony with EAC’s vision and mission of regional integration: a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically-united East Africa for improved living standards of all East Africans.