8 Mar 2016

Positive feedback on Netherlands police training in Papua

11:40 am on 8 March 2016

A Dutch-supported community policing programme in West Papua is being touted as a chance for grassroots communities to take ownership of security in their region.

Downtown Jayapura.

Downtown Jayapura. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

Deputy head of political affairs at the Netherlands Embassy in Indonesia, Maarten van den Bosch, has just visited the Papua region where he checked on the progress of the programme.

Jointly operated by the International Organisation for Migration with Dutch funding, it is training over 5000 personnel in community policing across three provinces: Papua, West Papua and Maluku.

Mr van den Bosch said they aimed to make the programme sustainable, which was why they were taking time to engage with authorities in the provinces.

"To explain about this programme and whole concept and philosophy behind community policing. Often people think it's just a police project, but they seem to understand more and more that security and safety is a joint responsibility and not just simply a police responsibility," said Maarten van den Bosch.

The Netherlands government said it had received positive feedback about the training programme it supported in West Papua.

Mr van der Bosch said the programme had established community policing forums at provincial, district and sub-district levels where police and communities met each other in informal settings to discuss a range of issues affecting them.

He said within those forums, relationships between community and the police were growing because communication was improving.

Mr van der Bosch said that national and provincial government saw the programme as a tool to gain a better understanding on what was happening in Papua's communities.

"Communities also see that this programme helps them also with engaging with the police. The police acknowledge that it requires a change of mindset, since this is all about prevention, and not about enforcement. I think about the results so far, that the Indonesian police are very satisfied with it, and they see the benefits of community policing."

Maarten van den Bosch said the programme, which began in 2013 and was due to conclude later this year, could hopefully be replicated in other parts of Indonesia.

New Zealand previously ran a community policing training programme in West Papua, which involved a small contingent of New Zealand personnel on the ground.

The programme had early installations around 2009 and 2010 however later plans to roll out a more extensive version of the programme were axed by Indonesia in 2014.

A senior official in the Indonesian police at the time cited concerns that the programme might have had a hidden motive as being the reason for its cancellation.

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