Priscilla Makotose, United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur Police Commissioner. Priscilla Makotose is the highest-ranking female police officer in the UN system. Ms. Makotose, a Zimbabwean national, has a wealth of experience in policing and management, with a policing career that spans more than 30 years. Within the UN system, she has had a taste of peacekeeping operations before her current posting: she was among the officers who served in the UN Mission in Liberia.
Ms. Makotose in an interview, explains the critical role played by UN Police components in peacekeeping and other UN missions.
Usually, the UN police are deployed in conflict or post-conflict environments. In most cases, in conflict or post-conflict areas, the local police would have lost their operational ability, and the UN police come in to re-establish them. If they have not lost their operational ability, their capacity to reach out to the rest of the population might have declined.
Required Police Service
The decline in capacity could also apply to their ability to provide the required police services. Sometimes, they may have lost their credibility with the population. We help them to rebuild that and to reintegrate them, so that they are able to work for the community; that they’re responsible for the population’s safety and security, as well as being accountable to the population as civil servants.
Difference in Work
Makotose says that in UNAMID we are there for the protection of civilians. In some missions, UN Police may have capacity building and mentoring roles, while in other peacekeeping missions, they may even have executive powers, where they actually act as the local police, providing services to the local community and the population.
Clash of roles
In UN, it is said to operate in a democratic and standard way of policing but from time to time, there have some disagreements about the way things should be done. Sometimes, the host police do not admit that their way of doing things is. We need to work on our relationships, and to make the host police understand that our roles are different, we are there to support them and the communities.
Kind of Crimes
There are so many different crimes that occur in Darfur and these may be found in any other country but as UNAMID, we are mandated to monitor and report on gender-based violence and sexual violence and others like murders and robbery.
Dealing with crime
Ms. Makotose says that during crime, our role in those cases would be to coordinate with the local police so that they take the reports, investigate them, and make sure that the perpetrators are prosecuted. It becomes necessary to take action rather than being late.
There is a kind of willingness to engage and to be effective. But, there are so many limitations. Firstly, the police are not even in all the sectors and all the areas of Darfur. There are certain areas where they are not present, and it would be good to see them working there. Then there are also many challenges such as lack of necessary infrastructure.
Few Female Police Officers
The other challenge we face is that there are very few local female police officers. We have some female police officers in the townships, but in there are not many in the remote areas. So we have undertaken an initiative with the host country police to try and establish family and children protection units.
An Inspiration for Woman’s
It’s certainly great to be a female Police Commissioner but it also requires a lot of hard work, especially now that I am the only one; there are so many tasks to fulfil. Nonetheless, my background has also prepared me to be able to interact, and to manage so many situations. As for other ladies who want to be Police Commissioners: the sky is the limit.
The passion to serve
Policing is about the passion to serve people. There is a lot of gratification you get when you see that you have made a difference in another person’s life. I would like to urge the women to take up the challenge, and come out and join the peacekeepers, says Makotose.
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