The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
INL assistance to Somalia began in September, 2013, with the signing of our first Letter of Agreement. From FY2012 – FY2017 INL has committed approximately $35 million in bilateral and regional assistance. Our current efforts focus on building the capacity of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Somali Police Force (SPF), addressing the gaps in the investigation and prosecution process, working to improve the skills of Somalia’s legal community, and supporting reforms in Somalia’s correction sector.
The al-Qaeda aligned terrorist group al-Shabaab remains the largest threat to internal and regional security. In addition to al-Shabaab, local-level conflicts affect Somali citizens every day. The African Union Mission in Somalia, in partnership with Somali security forces, has liberated areas of southern Somalia from al-Shabaab and helps support stabilization efforts through south central Somalia. Somali security forces – including the police and military – will require significant assistance and capacity building at all levels to consistently and effectively prevent and/or respond to terrorist incidents and other crimes and provide long-term stability and security.
Creating stability and removing the main drivers of conflict are top priorities for the Somali government. INL’s contribution to police and judicial reform enhances the U.S. relationship with the Somali government by supporting the country’s primary security goals. By helping to develop a SPF capable of responding to and preventing serious crimes, the United States promotes stability and security both in Somalia and across the region.
Enhancing the capacity of the SPF is a key component of U.S. support to Somalia. An effective police presence is necessary for stability, especially in areas cleared of al-Shabaab, and INL’s support to investigators to prevent and respond to serious crimes is critical for stabilization and recovery efforts. INL focuses on building the technical capacity of the CID to investigate complex crimes and effectively prepare and refer cases for prosecution. We are also working in partnership with the Attorney General’s Office and Custodial Corps to synchronize efforts to prevent violent extremism in prisons, and support justice sector actors to coordinate more effectively with the CID to successfully prevent, respond to, and prosecute serious crimes.
INL continues to support police reform efforts, in addition to broader justice reform. We have seen INL-trained CID officers better employ investigative capabilities, maximize the value of assets and equipment, and coordinate with AMISOM and Somali Government security forces and judicial actors. Mentored CID officers and forensic lab staff have supported the investigation and convictions of several high-profile attacks, including the October 14, 2017 bombing in Mogadishu that killed over 500 people. Prosecutors now participate in, and conduct training for, the CID on relevant Somali laws and the admission of evidence, and the coordination between the CID and Attorney General’s Office has improved.