Who Oversees the Puntland Police Force?

(PP Editorial) — The arrest of Shukri Ahmed Mohammed, first in Dangorayo, and then her transfer to North Garowe Police station, where she had been kept in solitary confinement for 21 days days before her release, dented the confidence Puntland people have in law enforcement agencies.

Women’s group activists in Dangoroyo have come out in support of Shukri, who called for an inquiry into her unlawful arrest.

“Police officers in Dangoroyo arrested my fourteen year old daughter and released her in the morning. Police officers who arrested my daughter claimed they had been tipsy when they took the decision to arrest my daughter” said Shukri.

The unlawful arrest of Shukri Ahmed in Puntland spotlights the threat unscrupulous policemen pose to citizens.

The police in Dangoroyo instructed Shukri to pursue her complaint about the arrest of her daughter before the police had arrested Shukri on grounds of “suspicious involvement with Al-shabaab”.

Where does the Somali Penal Code stand on the arrest of a citizen for 21 days? Who authorised the arrest? Those are not pedantic questions about the legal system in Puntland. The Puntland Police Force is organised along clan lines. In essence the force is made up of clan militias in uniforms, like other police forces in Somalia.

Puntland has gone down in history as the first administration to establish an intelligence force in 2002 to associate itself with the “War on the terror”. It was a unilateral and undemocratic decision to adopt securitisation policy for narrow-minded, economic purposes. The policy paved the way for parallel security forces in Puntland, some funded by foreign countries.

Against power abuse by the Puntland Police Force: Women in Dangoroyo district come out in support of Shukri Ahmed.

Puntland human rights organisations seem to be indifferent to the plight of citizens whom Puntland Police Force arrested without due process. There is no an organisation that oversees the highly decentralised Puntland Police Force. Local policemen run each district police station. When power abuse by the police comes to light, it is often seen as a matter for a subclan. There is nothing traditional about the authoritarian nature of Puntland law enforcement agencies. In the traditional clan or subclan context no authority vested with customary law powers can arrest a clansman or clanswoman on a whim.

The quasi-anarchic political system of Puntland draws legitimacy from the membership of clans in the very institutions that should have protected citizens against persecution by unscrupulous policemen.

It is time Puntland leaders at all levels woke up to the threat that unaccountable law enforcement agencies pose to citizens.

© Puntland Post, 2020