As the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative, Geert Cappelaere yesterday handed over three Toyota Hilux vehicles to the Inspector General (IG) of Police for the family support unit, the IG used the opportunity during his response to answer the many critics of the Police Force.
The three vehicles according to the UNICEF Rep. should be used to enhance the work of the family support unit in family mediation, data collection and monitoring especially on domestic and gender based violence against women and children in Kenema, Makeni and Kabala.
Speaking at the ceremony, the UNICEF Country Representative said he appreciated the partnership with government in meeting the millennium development goals for children, more so as it pertains to the protection of all children against all forms of abuse, exploitation and deprivation.
Mr Cappelaere said the provision of the vehicles will improve the mobility for investigation as well as sensitization on sexual exploitation and abuse at the community and regional levels.
He further stated that UNICEF recognised the significant role the family support unit continues to play in dealing with disputes within the family, community mediation and sensitization; and its capacity to respond to gender-based violence especially against children.
The UNICEF representative reiterated their support to government in their new programme for 2008-2010 adding that their focus will be in the contribution of a minimum protective environment for children and the strengthening of the legal and policy frameworks for the protection of all children.
Responding, the Inspector General of Police, Brima Acha Kamara used the opportunity to blast, what he called detractors that were bent on discrediting the Sierra Leone Police.
The IGP charged “it appears that a prophet has no respect in his country and I am quite aware of the trust and confidence the international community has in the SLP. When you hear Dr Richard Hogg of DFID talk he will single out the police as the institution they have investigated and they have value for money and even the silent majority in the country do appreciate us”
He lamented that “what is disturbing is some pseudo intellectuals who constantly criticize not knowing the difficulties we are encountering. Our skeptics do not realise that we are highly honoured both by the international community and by the majority of the people in the country”
The IGP pointed out that one area the police has done well was in the family support unit for which a lot was spent in developing the capacity to protect children. But he said most of the crimes committed against children and women were hidden ones although sometimes very serious, and administered by the local chiefs who do not know the gravity of such crimes.
He argued that increase in crime statistics does not necessarily mean weakness because “where we come in, is that each day there is increased confidence in the police that these reported matters will be treated seriously and confidentially so much that now even through sensitization the local people now know it is a The IGP said with the increase in reported cases, the court system comes in where it was proposed to amend the criminal procedure act to utilize section 136 to send cases directly to the high court “because if we use the preliminary investigation, by the time they conclude both the complainants and witnesses would have become disinterested in the matter” he said.