The EU Mission for the Support of Palestinian Police and Rule of Law
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“You want all criminals behind bars. But sometimes you have to go a longer route so you don’t violate human rights”

“You want all criminals behind bars. But sometimes you have to go a longer route so you don’t violate human rights”

Some years ago in central Sweden, a horse owner reported to the police that thieves had broken into his barn and stolen some expensive saddles. Then another owner reported the same thing. Slowly, but surely, it became clear that these weren’t isolated incidents, but part of a pattern. Johan Ekstam, head of a local Intelligence Led Policing section set to work trying to identify if there were any traits these crimes had in common. “We understood that this was a gang who were specialised in stealing saddles. And we tried to establish a pattern. We identified where the thefts took place and at what time it was most likely and also looked at what kind of traffic was in the area. We were particularly interested to see what kind of traffic operated at night. The community policing team, whose job it is to maintain close links with the community were able to provide advice on movements, especially from nearby petrol stations. We decided to set up some patrols at night, on days like Monday and Tuesday which were days when we believed this gang operated. And then, one night a patrol received a tip off from a local farmer, which was in line with information from a neighbouring district and the customs authority. We caught the gang”. Ekstam is now deployed at EUPOL COPPS as a Senior Police Adviser on Intelligence Led Policing. He brings to Ramallah his long experience in gathering pieces of information to build up a picture of criminality that will lead to criminals being brought to justice. “Information and intelligence are key factors in creating a competitive advantage, in law enforcement like in business. Information, knowledge and intelligence increases the effectiveness of the police in dealing with crime”. “Intelligence Led Policing contributes to optimising police work,” the adviser from central Sweden continues. “It should flow through the whole organisation – ideally, police officers see things and then feed it to analysts who can make links and identify what the problems are and then flag it to management, who can make a plan for operational action. Especially when you have limited resources, it’s important to have clever thinking. It also allows for a more proactive approach to fighting crime”. Ekstam underlines however that intelligence gathering needs to be done in a way that respects the human rights of citizens. “You need an appropriate framework that complies with international human rights standards and data protection. There should be laws that take care of what you can enter in your intelligence gathering system and what you can’t. Employees who are working with intelligence must know what they are allowed to do and what they are not to. They must know data protection law by heart. Everyone has the right to a private life”. He also makes clear that there should be an external body with the authorisation to check how data is being used. “This is one thing we have discussed at length with our counterparts in the Palestinian Civil Police. There needs to be control over what information is gathered and protection so that no-one is harassed on the basis of their political or religious beliefs or because, for example, they are a woman. You want to be effective and put all criminals behind bars, but sometimes you have to go a longer route so you don’t violate human rights”. “Also, one of our most important things is protecting sources,” the Swedish police officer continues. “If it’s obvious to criminals who the source of information is, then the source will be targeted. You have to used the information as wisely as you can. It’s very sensitive”. The EUPOL COPPS advisers working on Intelligence Led Policing are supporting the Palestinian Civil Police to build capacity in this area. An important part is developing a training curriculum so that the different levels of the police organisation have the right skills to implement an Intelligence Led Policing approach. Within the curriculum, different training needs are identified for officers at management level or for officers in the field. A road map has also been drawn up to develop practical courses that will help to implement the overall vision outlined in the curriculum. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the ability of advisers to meet their counterparts, but Ekstam feels like progress is being made. “Last year, it sometimes felt like we were scratching at the surface of what needed to be done, but now we’re definitely moving forward”.

EUPOL COPPS delivers briefings on election security

EUPOL COPPS delivers briefings on election security

As part of EU support for the development of democracy in the occupied Palestinian territories, briefings on election security were delivered in all 11 districts of the West Bank for senior officials and police officers. The briefings were organised as a cooperation between EUPOL COPPS, the German Representative Office to the Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Civil Police. “During elections most public institutions, including law enforcement agencies, have a role to play,” says Philipp Bovensiepen, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS, who has led the Mission’s contributions to these briefings. “While law enforcement agencies have a role in maintaining security during elections, it is extremely important that they remain entirely politically impartial. Moreover, they have to exercise proportionality in carrying out their duties and not do anything that could interfere with the democratic process”. The briefings delivered in the West Bank’s districts focused on the general principles of democratic elections, the role of the police, challenges that a police service might face, operational orders and mechanisms to allow police officers to vote. The topic of communication with the public was also covered. It is hoped that these briefings will help contribute to building capacity and facilitating successful elections in the occupied Palestinian territories.

EUPOL COPPS police advisers visit Salfit to listen to challenges and provide recommendations on strategic planning and human resources

EUPOL COPPS police advisers visit Salfit to listen to challenges and provide recommendations on strategic planning and human resources

A group of three EUPOL COPPS advisers, from Canada, the Netherlands and Romania visited the city of Salfit on 26 April in order to meet the head of the police in the district as well as other key stakeholders. The meetings provided an opportunity to listen to the challenges faced by local police officers as well as propose recommendations on how to meet those challenges. “We had very productive discussions with Brigadier Mamoun Fahmawi and his team,” says Karen Ziezold, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS. “We are working closely with the Palestinian Civil Police throughout the West Bank on strategic planning and human resources questions, and it was very useful to find out more about the realities on the ground in Salfit”. EUPOL COPPS is supporting the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) with the development of a new national strategy for the period 2022 – 2027 and the Mission is advocating for a more collaborative approach with input from police districts and local authorities. As part of this process, EUPOL COPPS advisers are consulting with representatives of the PCP across the West Bank. The Mission is also providing advice on the development of human resources. The Mission has recommended that even with updated human resources processes there will need to be continuous evaluation of how things are running with the objective of updating and improving the overall PCP Human Resources Plan. A group of three EUPOL COPPS advisers, from Canada, the Netherlands and Romania visited the city of Salfit on 26 April in order to meet the head of the police in the district as well as other key stakeholders. The meetings provided an opportunity to listen to the challenges faced by local police officers as well as propose recommendations on how to meet those challenges. “We had very productive discussions with Brigadier Mamoun Fahmawi and his team,” says Karen Ziezold, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS. “We are working closely with the Palestinian Civil Police throughout the West Bank on strategic planning and human resources questions, and it was very useful to find out more about the realities on the ground in Salfit”. EUPOL COPPS is supporting the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) with the development of a new national strategy for the period 2022 – 2027 and the Mission is advocating for a more collaborative approach with input from police districts and local authorities. As part of this process, EUPOL COPPS advisers are consulting with representatives of the PCP across the West Bank. The Mission is also providing advice on the development of human resources. The Mission has recommended that even with updated human resources processes there will need to be continuous evaluation of how things are running with the objective of updating and improving the overall PCP Human Resources Plan.

“For a police service to be built on democratic principles, it needs to be predictable and reliable”

“For a police service to be built on democratic principles, it needs to be predictable and reliable”

It turns out that Menno van Bruggen, a police superintendent from the Netherlands seconded at EUPOL COPPS, in addition to being a very experienced police adviser, is also a great admirer of Toyota cars. He attributes the success of the company to the fact that a participative culture is encouraged. “Anyone in the company with a good idea – even if it’s just someone working on the production line - is encouraged to contribute. The culture is that everyone can help make a better and reliable car. I used to work in Afghanistan, where a large majority of the cars are Toyotas because they cope well with the road and weather conditions – that’s a real sign of reliability”. This culture of participation is one that van Bruggen encourages for law enforcement agencies. “When, as an organisation, you involve people to make a strategy, it becomes a better strategy. You have to stimulate people to get involved. If you don’t get people involved in a plan, then it won’t work”. There are three areas that van Bruggen is currently advising on, alongside other EUPOL COPPS colleagues. One is the development of human resources, another is district coordination – i.e. ensuring that there are ways to ensure that decisions taken by the Palestinian Civil Police are implemented at a district level. The third however, brings together all the other aspects of his work and is a subject that he is passionate about – strategic planning. “The company Philips used to have the tagline ’Sense and Simplicity’– but actually this is equally relevant for a police service. In police work you want to make sure that everything is as simple and reliable as possible. For a police service to be built on democratic principles, it needs to be predictable and reliable”. The Dutch police superintendent gives some examples from his experiences in the Netherlands to illustrate his point. “In the Dutch police we have moments where we organise meetings with the public. Elected representatives, such as mayors, are particularly important because they are the democratic representatives. We do research into satisfaction with the police, so we are aware of what people think of our work. We measure safety, for example how safe people feel when they are walking at night. We provide statistics on crime, but it’s also really important how safe people feel, not just the numbers”. “We also look into local statistics,” van Bruggen continues. “Are there some crimes that are higher than others in certain areas? Why might that be?” When the police in the Netherlands have gathered the data they need, they involve selected stakeholders to help formulate the strategy for combatting crime and keeping the public safe. According to van Bruggen, it takes at least a year to draw up a strategy for a five-year period. Moreover, the five-year strategy is periodically monitored and evaluated during its implementation period. Van Bruggen points to community policing officers within the Dutch Police as being key in the gathering of information that is relevant to the fight against crime in their area. “The community police officer should know what is happening in his or her area. As a citizen, you should be able to walk up to him or her and talk about problems – and the police officer should also know what to do with the input. This has been particularly important during the pandemic – the police have to stay in touch with social services and psychological services. You have to adopt a holistic approach”. In order to support the PCP with a more participative approach to strategic planning, van Bruggen has been working with colleagues and international partners on workshops that involve Palestinian community representatives. He is very glad that the PCP’s draft five-year strategy for 2022 – 2027 pays particular attention to human rights and gender issues. “Only around 4% of Palestinian police officers are women,” he says. “This has to change”. Unsurprisingly, given that he advises a holistic approach to strategic planning, van Bruggen is sharing information and working with other international donors to support the PCP. “We can do a lot when we do it together,” he concludes.    

EUPOL COPPS supports Palestinian partners to address delays in justice system

EUPOL COPPS supports Palestinian partners to address delays in justice system

EUPOL COPPS organised a workshop on 6 April with representatives of the Palestinian criminal justice system from the High Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice and the Palestinian Civil Police in order to identify the root causes behind delays to the judicial process and discuss ways to reduce the backlog of cases. “The right to a Fair Trial is one of the most prominent foundations of criminal justice and ensuring an effective legal process by reducing delays and case back logs is an important part of that,” said EUPOL COPPS Head of Mission Nataliya Apostolova, who delivered opening remarks at the start of the workshop. “The Palestinian people have the right to fair processes by competent, independent and impartial courts governed by law and to expect their cases to be efficiently and expediently treated. This is crucial to gain trust and accountability from citizens,” she continued. The workshop took place within the framework of the Fair Trial Working Group – a multi-agency network of Palestinian experts working together with EUPOL COPPS advisers to advance the right to a fair trial. Addressing weaknesses in the rule of law system is a core objective in EUPOL COPPS’s work, and is a crucial element for Palestinian justice institutions to enhance trust and accountability with the Palestinian general public. The meeting on 6 April will be followed up in May with proposals of concrete measures to address the causes of delays in the judicial system. The group will also work on an implementation plan to put these measures into action.

“Communication and cooperation are key to solving crimes”

“Communication and cooperation are key to solving crimes”

Hillevi Johansson is a Swedish Police Superintendent, who advises the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) on criminal investigations. She enrolled in the Swedish Police Academy in January 1978, and over a long police career has spent over two decades specialised in investigations, leading large teams of police officers and specialists. Her role at EUPOL COPPS involves providing advice and support for the PCP to help make police investigations more effective. Having previously worked in international missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Liberia, Johansson isn’t fazed by many challenges, instead focusing on promoting small, but important changes that might improve police operations. Johansson believes that communication between different police departments, prosecutors, local authorities and the public is one of the most important elements for investigation teams. “Communication and cooperation are key to solving crimes,” she says. “Under the umbrella of a Criminal Investigations Department, you’ll have different areas – for example anti-narcotics, domestic and family violence, cybercrime, intelligence-led policing. They need to talk to each other”. The Swedish expert underlines the importance for the police of building trusting relationships with local communities. “Investigators should have a close relationship with their colleagues working on community policing issues. Community policing officers are the ones with the contacts of social workers, local business and religious leaders, regular citizens – everyone that an investigator needs to talk to when trying to solve a crime. I have worked on community policing issues myself, I know how important it is to inform colleagues about what I know”. With regard to the way in which investigations are conducted, Johansson notes that in her experience having one lead police investigator cooperating with one prosecutor is more effective than having too many people taking responsibility for one case. She argues for clearer lines of responsibility within investigations departments, as well as fewer hierarchical divisions, as well as more power for investigators and prosecutors to take decisions. Expanding women’s participation in police services is a subject that is very close to Johansson’s heart. While working in Liberia, she mentored over 100 young women to prepare them to apply for the police academy. “93% of the group managed to pass the exam for the police academy. I treasure the letters I received afterwards. Most of the young women were from outside Monrovia [the capital of Liberia], so as well as mentoring, we also had to support them with practical elements like finding somewhere to stay while preparing for the exam. It was a special experience, and I feel we really helped make a difference”. Johansson encourages greater participation of women in police services in the West Bank as well. “I would like to see more female police officers,” she says. “I’m a strong believer in that the police force should reflect the society they serve. That’s why I believe It’s important to deploy more female police officers to increase the trust of between police and citizens.”. After participating in a tour of the West Bank’s 11 police districts in order to produce an analysis of the PCP’s needs, the Swedish expert was impressed with the commitment of the police officers she met. “Even though the political situation is complicated, even though they lack equipment, you can see that they are engaged. Even if the officers lack something, they’ll try and find a way around any problem. They are dedicated police officers”. With the commitment of officers in the PCP, Johansson believes that a few structural changes, such as better communication and cooperation between departments and a reorganisation of responsibilities will make a decisive difference. And while she is deployed at EUPOL COPPS, she will do her best to support her Palestinian counterparts make those changes happen.

“If you are going to the police, you need to feel safe”

“If you are going to the police, you need to feel safe”

Leanne Butler, from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, has over three decades of experience in police work investigating child abuse and domestic violence. As part of an agreement Canada has with the EU, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sends highly qualified police advisers to EUPOL COPPS in order to support the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP). In Butler’s case, this involves working with the PCP’s Family Protection Unit in order to boost capacity in the fight against abuse which takes place within the home. “I am very honoured to be working with Colonel Wafa Muammar, who leads the Family Protection Unit, and her team,” says the Canadian expert. “They really care about the victims, and are doing their best, even though they face a lot of challenges. As part of my work, I have travelled to different police districts across the West Bank. I met police officers who hadn’t been paid for months [as a result of financial pressures facing the Palestinian Authority]. Whatever the difficulties, they still carry out their work to prevent and investigate domestic violence. This makes you realise how committed they are”. Butler is open about the issues facing her Palestinian colleagues working in the Family Protection Unit. “Gender-based and domestic violence are ongoing problems and the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation families in abusive situations face even more challenging. The needs of the Family Protection Unit are ever changing – for example, cybercrime is an increasing problem and they need training in how to adapt to new technologies”. “The PCP has also asked for support in how to interview people who have been victims of domestic violence,” Butler continues. “If you are going to the police, you need to feel safe, and the way that an interview is conducted is important in creating a safe environment, and also for collecting evidence that can be used by prosecutors”. As well as training, the needs assessment that Butler carried out also identified that improvements to infrastructure would also make an important difference. “Most police stations lack a private room where evidence can be recorded in a way that is comfortable for people who have been through a traumatic experience. Partnering Organizations were found to support the building of infrastructure and we are looking at how we can refurbish spaces where interviews can take place in a way that is sensitive to the needs of victims”. Another issue that Butler noted while visiting police stations across the West Bank was a lack of female restrooms. This obliges victims as well as female police officers to use other facilities, such as those in nearby cafes. “Having facilities for women is an important part of making spaces inclusive for female Palestinians”. A positive development in the fight against domestic violence is was set up a few years ago of a ‘one-stop shop’ in Ramallah that victims can turn to. Butler hopes that such services might be available across the West Bank. “In Prince Edward Island, we want our support for women to be inclusive – we don’t just investigate, we try to make sure they have some sort of safety plan and support, including the possibility of court orders to restrict the ability of abusers to contact their victims or access the family home. Victims need different kinds of support and it’s good for them to get it in one place”. The recent establishment of a telephone hotline that victims of domestic violence can call in order to speak to specialists is an important step forward for the PCP. The service is currently only available in the Ramallah district, but the PCP is expanding the reach of the hotline, including with EUPOL COPPS support. Butler will soon leave EUPOL COPPS to return to policing duty in Canada, but her replacement will also be a Canadian woman. “I think the PCP’s Family Protection Unit is special and so I’m glad that another Canadian will have the opportunity to work with them. As well as working with the Family Protection Unit, one of the best parts of my time at EUPOL COPPS has been working with people from other countries. Different police forces from around Europe do things in slightly different ways, and you can always learn something from other approaches”.  

EUPOL COPPS joins with other EU Missions to form environmental best practice network

EUPOL COPPS joins with other EU Missions to form environmental best practice network

The EU launched a network for advisers and project managers working on environmental issues in Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Mission on 16 March 2021. This network will share best practices on how to put environmental considerations more firmly at the heart of CSDP, including supporting partners such as Palestinian policing and criminal justice institutions to prevent and investigate environmental crime. “There is a growing awareness of the importance of environmental issues, particularly in the context of the advice, mentoring and training delivered by CSDP Missions,” says Katja Dominik, Deputy Head of EUPOL COPPS,  who is part of the network. “Environmental crime doesn’t just affect the health and wellbeing of ordinary citizens and future generations. The most serious examples such as dumping of toxic waste are often linked to organised crime groups involved in multiple forms of criminality”. The meeting provided an opportunity for EUPOL COPPS’ Environmental Adviser, Henrik Forssblad to brief the group about his work in the West Bank and the particular challenges faced by his Palestinian counterparts as well as the steps the Mission is taking to reduce its own environmental footprint. The EU is committed to putting environmental considerations at the heart of its foreign policy, and is actively taking steps to strengthen the role of the environment in all projects and Missions under the umbrella of the European External Action Service.

EUPOL COPPS police experts provide first in series of workshops designed to support Palestinian Civil Police’s new 5-year strategy

EUPOL COPPS police experts provide first in series of workshops designed to support Palestinian Civil Police’s new 5-year strategy

EUPOL COPPS experts from the Netherlands and Canada delivered in Ramallah on 2 March 2021 the first in a set of workshops designed to support the development of a new strategy for the period 2022 – 27 for the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP). “We are delighted to be supporting the PCP with their new strategy, and particularly happy that the PCP have announced their intention to aim for higher standards in terms of human rights and gender,” said Menno van Bruggen, Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS, and one of the police experts who delivered the Ramallah training. “It is also very positive that the PCP are consulting widely on this strategy, involving different stakeholders, such as local authorities, as well as international experts”. The seminar focused on how to establish an organisational vision that a strategy can be built around. The trainers and participants then discussed how to make strategic choices and draft a strategy that is able to realise the original vision. In the coming weeks, similar trainings are planned in four other Palestinian police districts. Participants will be invited from all 11 Palestinian police districts in order to ensure the maximum geographic coverage.

EUPOL COPPS Head Nataliya Apostolova meets Head of Palestinian Bar Association Jawad Obeidat and observes swearing in of new lawyers

EUPOL COPPS Head Nataliya Apostolova meets Head of Palestinian Bar Association Jawad Obeidat and observes swearing in of new lawyers

EUPOL COPPS Head Nataliya Apostolova was invited to observe the swearing in of new lawyers to the Bar at the Palestinian Bar Association (PBA) on 1 March 2021 before her first official meeting with PBA Head Jawad Obeidat. During the meeting, issues related to the rule of law were discussed at length. “I was very honoured to have been invited to observe the swearing in of new lawyers,” said Ms Apostolova. “As a law graduate myself, I know what a special moment it is to be admitted to the Bar, and I wish these young lawyers the very best of success in their careers. We will continue delivering advice and training to the PBA with the hope that these newly sworn in lawyers and all those that follow them have the brightest possible future”. During her meeting with Mr Obeidat, Ms Apostolova listened attentively to the PBA Head’s views about the current state of play in the criminal justice system. The PBA has been critical of recent amendments to the laws governing judicial appointments and Mr Obeidat elaborated on the concerns he has related to these changes.   As well as discussing issues related to the rule of law, the meeting provided an opportunity to go over the support that EUPOL COPPS has offered the PBA recently, for example the establishment of a network of female Palestinian lawyers to support the sharing of information and their career advancement. Ms Apostolova confirmed that EUPOL COPPS was ready to explore new avenues of cooperation and continue providing advice and training for members of the PBA.