BENGHAZI, LIBYA 5/31/2011 – Shattered by the recent conflict, the police force in Benghazi is slowly putting itself back together.
Formed from the remnants of many different law enforcement units, including traffic officers, the police force has renamed itself “National Security” and taken up office in the former headquarters of the traffic police.
Through the conflict they’ve maintained a degree of professionalism, dividing up their shifts and ensuring that reports and arrests have proper documentation and follow up.
However, in addition to being police, the officers are still citizens of Benghazi themselves. Like many Libyans, they still find themselves swept up in the revolutionary fervor gripping the east.
Alive in Libya spoke with several police officers in Benghazi about the origins of “National Security”, the work involved in re-constituting a city’s police force, as well as their opinion on those deemed loyal to the Gaddafi regime.
One officer took the opportunity to unload on “Shakeer”, a personality on Libyan state TV.
“He used to write books on Gaddafi’s crimes,” the officer complained, “what is he getting from him? Money like the other dogs?”
Britain will supply police officers in rebel-held eastern Libya with uniforms and body armour, and help establish a public radio station, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Thursday. [...]
“He said that we would be providing additional support … things like police body armour, and also includes help and advice on setting up an independent broadcasting service,” Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field said.
The German government is pondering plans to train police in the Libyan rebel-held city of Benghazi, a foreign ministry spokesman said here Wednesday. [...]
Andreas Peschke told media representatives that Berlin is looking ‘very concretely into the option’ of training police in Benghazi ‘as soon as the situation allows it.’
The police and the ISO share responsibility for internal security. Armed forces and the External Security Service are responsible for external security. In practice it was unclear where authorities overlapped. Security forces were effective when combating internal and external threats against the regime. Security forces committed serious human rights abuses with impunity, including the lengthy extralegal detentions of political prisoners. They intimidated, harassed, and detained individuals without formal charges and held them indefinitely without court convictions, particularly in cases involving the political opposition. They regularly enjoyed impunity from criminal acts committed while performing their duties.