May 11, 2012 | Interview, Michael Lawrence, Review

The recent SSR Issue Paper Policing in Palestine: The EU Police Reform Mission in the West Bank by Madeline Kristoff examines the process of police reform, makes policy recommendations, and ultimately concludes that the construction of legitimate and sustainable Palestinian institutions requires a credible Palestinian-Israeli peace process. We are pleased that Henrik Malmquist, head of the EUPOL COPPS mission that is the subject of the paper, has not only read it but responded to the shortcomings he sees in the analysis. His reactions are pasted below, followed by a response to Mr. Malmquist by the author of the paper.

Letter from Henrik Malmquist, Head of Mission, EUPOL COPPS:

The report “Policing in Palestine: Analyzing the EU Police Reform Mission in the West Bank” published on 2 February 2012 contains several outdated pieces of information as well as inaccuracies and thus is far from reflecting the current reality on the ground.

While the author is right when acknowledging the fact that EUPOL COPPS has no “monitoring role”, the author makes numerous references to EUPOL COPPS’ “failure” in reforming the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI). This assumption is entirely unfounded since the Mission aims primarily at contributing to the establishment of sustainable and effective policing arrangements under Palestine ownership in accordance with the best international standards. According to its mandate, the Mission is not in charge of reforming the MoI, but engages widely with MoI where it concerns the PCP – Code of Conduct, donor coordination, Central Training Administration (CTA), Programme Steering Committee (PSC), Security Sector Working Group (SSWG), Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) – and the Criminal Justice Institutions.

The author seems to wrongly assume that EUPOL COPPS works alone to support the PCP. On the contrary, EUPOL COPPS acts as one of several key channels for the efforts of the EU and the wider international community, in its area of responsibility, to improve the situation on the ground and obtain practical results. The Mission ensures close coordination with programmes and projects financed by the EU Representative Office, EU Member States and other bilateral donors. EUPOL COPPS is also a technical adviser of the Security Sector Working Group (SSWG) and cooperates actively with the United States Security Coordinator (USSC).

The author states that EUPOL COPPS position is not to inform and to engage with the Government of Israel on its activities with the PCP. Again, this is entirely untrue. The Mission works in full transparency and through established cooperation mechanisms with the Israeli authorities – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Civil Administration, the Israeli police for West Bank and the Israeli police / Palestinian liaison unit – to ensure that the Mission is able to address matters of concern on the ground such as equipment, to assess the progress of movement and infrastructure for the PCP and to develop and facilitate joint PCP/Israeli Police initiatives.

On numerous occasions, the author underlines EUPOL COPPS’ alleged ‘weak role’ in promoting PCP’s accountability and oversight, which does not reflect the present situation. EUPOL COPPS has been tackling the issue of police accountability through the following actions:

  • On 1 December 2011, a joint PA-EUPOL COPPS-UNDP programme was signed, based on rule of law and respect for human rights. With a 2.4 million budget, it aims at strengthening internal police accountability, national anti-corruption efforts, gender equality, the oversight role of civil society in democratic governance and preparation for statehood.
  • EUPOL COPPS together with the EU Representative Office has developed a EUR 3.3 million programme on the creation and maintenance of a baseline (including a systematic public perception survey methodology), collection/analysis of statistical data for internal PCP use, and organizational change efforts focused on Human Resources and Training Administrations. EUPOL is supporting the PCP to perform also technical baseline studies of police Administrations, which will pave the ground for the next PCP strategy.

Finally, on the same issue, a recent survey study conducted for the Palestinian Government Media Centre and funded by DFID (end of 2011) shows that the security service with one of the most positive public perception is the Police (78% positive). According to a UNDP study (also end of 2011), the overwhelming majority of Palestinian households believe that security services are legitimate and choose to use them to resolve all manner of disputes. 91.7% choose to call the police when in danger; 71% consider that courts are the only legitimate institutions through which to resolve disputes. Such good results from institutions to which EUPOL COPPS has been providing support and advice are encouraging.

Response from Madeline Kristoff, Author of Policing in Palestine:

It was very encouraging to see the response written by Henrik Malmquist, the Head of Mission of EUPOL COPPS. This type of dialogue can only strengthen future SSR programs around the world to better incorporate a people-centric, holistic, and ultimately more sustainable approach. Critical analysis of programs ensures that we can learn from each other. My paper was not intended to discredit the progress the Palestinian Civil Police has made in previous years, of which the PCP, EUPOL COPPS and the Palestinian Authority, among others, deserve recognition. My aim was to fill a gap in research and point to areas in which EUPOL COPPS can evolve and improve.

By insisting that the Mission mandate is not to reform, EUPOL COPPS continues to disavow its role in influencing the form and purpose of security sector reform to the Palestinian Authority. This is a responsibility it has held since the Oslo Accords and especially post-2007, as the primary source of training for the Palestinian Civil Police, and after numerous EU Action Strategy documents and joint donor conferences. EUPOL COPPS cannot, and should not, hide from the reform role it holds.

I fully understand that EUPOL COPPS is one of many actors involved in supporting the PCP and indeed state in the paper that judging the impact of EUPOL COPPS efforts is difficult due to the involvement of many other actors and the interplay of several variables. I acknowledge the limits of my paper and appreciate the new data provided regarding the joint PA-EUPOL COPPS-UNDP program signed in December 2011 and the survey conducted for the Palestinian Government Media Centre also at the end of 2011. Unfortunately this information was unavailable at the time of writing and, thus, I could not have incorporated this into my paper. These points will be taken into consideration in future research.