On his first day in Nassau, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arreaga participated in a civil society event in the American Corner at the College of The Bahamas. The event, moderated by National L.E.A.D. Institute president Mr. Troy Clarke, brought together officials from various government ministries and civil society organizations to share reactions, observations, and lessons learned from their January corrections-focused study tour to North Carolina. The study tour explored best practices and alternative approaches in rehabilitative services with the aim of creating a more collaborative, coordinated, and evidence-based approach to corrections in The Bahamas. The lively exchange of views during the event illustrated the range and depth of historical, cultural, and other ties between the United States and The Bahamas.
Continuing the longstanding security partnership between the United States and The Bahamas, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arreaga also met with a host of government officials to discuss and promote citizen security cooperation and collaboration through CBSI. In meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Attorney General, and the Minister of National Security, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arreaga encouraged The Bahamas to take a leadership role within CBSI by sharing its expertise in countering firearms trafficking and in the maintenance and sustainment of small maritime interceptor vessels with other countries in the region. Deputy Assistant Secretary Arreaga also joined the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration in signing the fifth amendment to the September 24, 2010 letter of agreement on narcotics control and law enforcement, providing an additional $1.85 million in CBSI funds to reduce illicit trafficking, increase public safety and security, and promote social justice.
Other highlights included a tour of Her Majesty’s Prison and visits to the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Drug Enforcement Unit, Police College, and Marine Support Unit to view previous and ongoing INL-supported activities that enhance the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s ability to gather law enforcement information, conduct investigations, and perform interdiction operations.
As part of INL Tbilisi’s efforts to empower women in Eastern Europe, INL hosted its 3rd annual Women in Policing Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia March 4-6, 2014 to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8. Women play a critical role in the region’s peace, safety, and security. The mission of the conference was to empower women police officers in the region to move beyond the traditional roles that have been established for them within their police organizations and give them opportunities to experience tactile training and professional development.
When INL held the first conference of this kind in 2012, only 120 officers from Georgia participated. This year, the conference grew to 180 officers and participating countries included Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan.
U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Bridget Brink opened the conference, noting, “This conference, which is collaboration between the U.S. Government, the Georgian Government, specifically the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the International Organization for Migration, brings together 180 female police officers from Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus. We are delighted to bring them here today to meet up with experts from America and other places to help their professional development in police forces across these regions.”
“It’s a three-fold message,” said Mike Turner, INL’s Senior Law Enforcement Advisor for Georgia, “It’s about motivation, encouraging leadership, and transferring of technical knowledge.” The conference created a space for women to meet other successful women in areas that they have an interest in. Conference sessions covered how to become more active in fighting crime and how to be a leader in a male dominated profession. Several experienced officers from U.S. federal, state and local criminal justice agencies served as instructors for the conference, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the State of Georgia’s Bureau of Investigation; and local police departments from the States of Georgia and Washington.
Presentations included how to investigate domestic violence crimes from beginning to end, child abuse cases, medical death investigations, and emerging trends in law enforcement. The instructors also taught self-defensive tactics, as well as the decision making process and judgment required when faced with using deadly force. Some of the women officers had never learned how to read and react to different real-life scenarios, and so greatly appreciated the tactile sessions. The instructors shared their thoughts and experiences with leadership and with being a woman leader in a male dominated profession. “The conference continues to be one of the best career development opportunities available to women police officers in the region”, commented Turner. INL plans to continue to grow the event annually.
On February 20, 2014, INL, in conjunction with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), hosted a public event to launch INL’s two new programmatic guides: the INL Guide to Gender in the Criminal Justice System and the INL Guide to Justice Sector Assistance. The guides serve as a tool to help INL program officers develop and manage foreign assistance programs in the areas of gender and justice sector assistance.
INL Deputy Assistant Secretary Luis Arreaga opened the event by remarking, “Our Bureau was founded mostly to do drug interdiction and eradication. Over the past four decades, however, it has become clear that the core mission cannot be achieved without comprehensive and integrated programming on all three facets of the criminal justice nexus: police, corrections, and justice. Who would have thought four decades ago, that a bureau focused mostly on drug interdiction and eradication would acknowledge that we needed a more comprehensive approach to tackling drug trafficking and other types of criminal activity.”
The event featured two panels and highlighted INL’s substantial involvement in justice sector reform programs and gender mainstreaming efforts. One panel focused on justice sector tools and resources that included INL’s Guide to Justice Sector, the American Bar Association (ABA)’s Promoting the Rule of Law: A Practitioner’s Guide to Key Issues and Developments, and the first two volumes of the Afghanistan Rule of Law Primer that INL’s Afghanistan team developed. Panelists discussed how practitioners can use the information contained in the guides to design better programs and more effectively allocate resources.
The second panel showcased ways in which INL partners are working to increase women’s participation in criminal justice professions and to improve women’s access to justice. This panel brought to life some of the people, programs and lessons learned showcased in the gender guide. Major Suzanne El Hajj, who is featured as a champion of change in the gender guide, shared her experiences as one of the first women to join Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces. A representative from the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) talked about its holistic approach to increasing access to justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Rounding out this panel, a representative from one of INL/CAP’s state partners, the Nebraska Department of Corrections, discussed how study tours can serve as an effective mechanism for promoting women’s inclusion.
The new INL guides are means to ensure that INL has the necessary framework to develop comprehensive and integrated programs. Three additional guides will soon follow to address police, corrections, and anticorruption issues.