The Independent Police Complaints Board of Sierra Leone (IPCB – S/L) on Monday 28th June, 2021 played host to the Governance and Peace Building Mission from UNDP’s Regional Service Center for Africa based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The UNDP office in Freetown through a letter dated 21st June, 2021 notified the IPCB and other institutions of the Governance and Peace Building Mission’s arrival in Sierra Leone. Led by Dr. Roselyn Akombe, the Mission is in Sierra Leone to “assess and restructure it (Governance Portfolio) into a new portfolio that is fit-for-purpose”. “…Previous incidents of political violence and confrontations between the youth and the police have triggered the need for a thorough reflection of our governance programme with a view to strengthening our offer in responding to governance issues in the country” the letter reads.
Welcoming the Mission, the Chairman of the IPCB Mr. Richard Shealton Freeman expressed gratitude to the UNDP for its continued support since the establishment of the Agency. “The UNDP has been very instrumental in the establishment and operationalization of the IPCB. They started supporting us in late 2014, and our working relationship has been very cordial” he reaffirmed.
The Chairman disclosed that the IPCB is an independent civilian oversight mechanism for the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), operationalized in late 2014 by the IPCB Regulations, 2013. Mr. Freeman stated that Section 3 (1&2) of the IPCB Regulations, 2013; mandates the IPCB to receive and investigate complaints relating to potential police excesses against members of the civil populace.
He said the Board plays a critical role in maintaining the security of the state, hence listens to complaints from the people against police officers and also from some police officers against the police Agency. “In dealing with such matters, we have to be very professional, honest and our integrity is also at stake if we do not handle such issues the way they should be handled” he added.
Speaking on future plans, the Chairman disclosed that upgrading IPCB’s current Regulations into an Act of Parliament and institutional capacity building/development of the Agency are at the nucleus of the leadership of the institution. He furthered that the reviewing of the legal framework which commenced in 2019 is sponsored by the UNDP.
In her statement, the Governance and Peace Building Coordinator Dr. Roselyn Akombe reiterated that the Mission was in Sierra Leone to assess UNDP’s support and also identify priority areas to strengthen in line with the government’s Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP 2019-2023). “Sierra Leone is very important to the UNDP. We want to be able to continue to support the government of Sierra Leone” she said.
Dr. Akombe commended the IPCB for the good work since its establishment, noting that oversight policing was “an incredible difficult job”. She re-echoed the important role the Board plays in the maintenance of peace, and called on the IPCB to continue with the good work in serving as a bridge between the people and the police.
The Governance and Peace Coordinator assured the leadership of the IPCB of UNDP’s continued support. Speaking on the good working relationship between the two Agencies, Dr. Akombe said: “This is our first meeting in our mission to Sierra Leone and it shows how the UNDP views you (IPCB)”.