By: Zazay Kolubah
Having been trained in various capacity building programs, Liberia’s security sector is gradually gravitating to higher professional heights. The latest beneficiary is the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR) whose officers got trained by UNMIL in advanced intelligence operation, following the basic intelligence training exercise conducted recently in Monrovia.
The officers were selected from various prison facilities across Liberia, and went through initial screening; they proved qualified to train and work in the intelligence unit, soon to be established at BCR. The unit is expected to fully monitor every moment of inmates while they complete their sentences.
Out of the 15 officers that trained and certificated by UNMIL Corrections Advisory Unit and BCR Authority, three were females.
The training exercise was theoretical and practical, covering coordination, team building, classified information gathering and reporting, client and command structure orientation along with basic security in the field.
They also trained in responding appropriately to stampedes and jail breaks and psychosocial counseling, in support to inmates regarding special needs and rehabilitation.
Mikael Unger, UNMIL Corrections Trainer emphasized the need for more female participation in all national security programs, especially the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Immigration Service - institutions he considered as civilian related who always deal with specialized cases of women and children. Based on this, it was necessary for more female to sign up to serve the security sector and provide response from a more experienced and gender friendly perspective.
Unger pledged UNMIL’s commitment to supporting programs that would enhance the skills of the Liberian security sector in an effort to manage the peace and security of the state. “Please serve with passion to help humanity, your nation and use the BCR Code of Conduct as your guide” Unger said.
The UNMIL Corrections Trainer who has more than a decade of practical experience working in the correctional sector prior to joining UNMIL, reported that the major challenge faced in intelligence gathering is access to credible information and the source, something he said justifies the need to protect the source and keep information classified to aid during investigation and surveillance.
BCR is in the process of realigning its operational structure as part of reform that is currently taking place for the Liberian Security Sector. The National Legislature recently passed the LNP and LIS Acts that gave the entities the authority to restructure their operations.
BCR is proposing an Independent Intelligence Unit to help deliver on its mandate more, Director of Prison Edwin F. McGill told participants at the graduation exercise.
Director McGill challenged the graduates to put their newly attained skills into practice and help change negative interpretations about misshape on the part of correction officers.
The Prison Director called for the separation of personal gains from professionalism, if the officers must be agents of change. “I also charge you to keep low key, but with eyes opened” Mcgill concluded and thanked UNMIL for the support it continues to render BCR.
UNMIL Quick Impact Project in January launched a six-month rolling life skill training exercise covering tailoring and tie-and-dye, now benefiting 20 inmates and prison guards at the Monrovia Central Prison.