UNDP Engagement in the Police and Judicial Reform in Mozambique

Context

After becoming independent from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique, led by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), witnessed structural transformation from a colonial state into a modern socialist society. Shortly after, the Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) led a 16 year guerrilla war against the government, at the end of which both the armed forces and the insurgents were devastated. In 1990, Mozambique adopted a new constitution that transformed the political system and sowed the seeds of oversight of the security sector. The war ended with the signature of the Rome Peace Agreement in 1992, which went on to be implemented under the supervision of the United Nations Operation for Mozambique (UNOMOZ).

Later on, the Defense and Security Act (17/97) established a basic legal and institutional framework for the military, police, and intelligence services. This was followed by a law on the Defence and Armed Forces (18/97), but for a long time no similar framework was developed to cover the activity of the Police and of the Intelligence. Reforms in internal security took longer to unfold than in the defence sector, and when they did the government took a strong stance in terms of controlling the process. 

Entry Point

At the end of the civil war crime rates increased leading to a negative perception of the Police by the public, which mainly viewed the Polícia da República de Moҫambique  (PRM) as inefficient and corrupt. After the 1994 elections the government signalled the intent to start reforms in the Police, leading a group of international donors into forming the Police Donor Group (PDG) in 1996. The PDG, working through UNDP, proposed a police reform package to the government of Mozambique. UNDP coordinated the project aimed at retraining existing cadres and training a new generation of police officers, including the creation of a new police academy, with a view to transforming the PRM into a more efficient and accountable force. UNDP has also supported the development and implementation of a Strategic Plan for the PRM 2003-2012. Alongside efforts in Police reform UNDP also supported efforts to strengthen the Centre for Legal and Judicial Training (CFJJ), which aimed at training new staff for the judicial sector, as well as broader efforts towards rehabilitation  of court infrastructure and re-organisation of the sector. Importantly, it helped develop an integrated strategic plan for the justice sector, and supported the beginnings of a long process of penal and prison reforms.

Lessons Identified

Neutrality and Impartiality – UNDP acted as an impartial coordinator of the programme, managing reform sensitivities in areas in which the government was opposed to external involvement, and third party actors did not want to engage on a bilateral basis.

Support in the development of security and justice reform tools – the supporting role of UNDP to the government and the international donor community in Mozambique was implemented through the undertaking of needs assessments, facilitation of primary research on the institutions at stake, and generation of analyses and policy recommendations for the reform process. The UNDP approach to police and judicial reform combined the same standards and principles which applied to the rest of the public sector’s unique characteristics, overall ensuring a more sustainable reform process.  This was a first step in addressing a change in these institutions’ cultures.

Provision of common guidance – all judicial institutions which operated under the umbrella of the integrated justice strategic plan stated that even if they were implementing their respective specific institutional plans, overall they still followed general guidance provided by UNDP for the design and the implementation of their annual plans. The common guidance and strengthened interaction around the implementation of the integrated strategic plan generated a more holistic system contributing to an increase of 30% in the resolution of pending cases, according to the 2004 President’s report on the State of Nation.

Impact

According to two external evaluations commissioned by UNDP and the Swiss government, after the UNDP project ending police reform in Mozambique still faced problems. The Swiss report highlighted improvements in the police’ protection of human rights, but huge challenges persisted in the ability to tackle corruption, the absence of long-term planning capacity, and the lack of adequate training programmes. In addition, legislative gaps, including the need for legal frameworks regarding police involvement in natural disaster management, and a required change of attitude with respect to domestic violence and HIV-AIDS interventions were identified.

The evaluations on judicial reform also revealed mixed results. In 2005 the President of the Supreme Court stated that in the previous year the courts performed more efficiently and effectively, but that the practice of each institution adopting a strategic plan without coordinating closely with the others created difficulties in the management of the reform process.

Despite external evaluations stressing the need for further reform, the involvement of UNDP stands out as a case of building local trust and political engagement thanks to its neutral stance during the reform process. As a mediator between Mozambique’s government and donors, UNDP was able to provide guidance for police and judicial institutions that otherwise would have been lacking.

References

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