MBABANE, Swaziland – Approximately 25 members of the Royal Swaziland Police Service discussed the roles, missions, and responsibilities of national police during a July 31, 2012, workshop co-hosted by the Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and the U.S. Embassy in Mbabane.
Dr. Mathurin C. “Matt” Houngnikpo, the Academic Chair of Civil-Military Relations at ACSS, provided an overview of law enforcement professionals and their often difficult role of being public servants who must balance the rights of citizens with the requirement to uphold national laws. Following the overview, Dr. Houngnikpo moderated a two-hour discussion that included public perceptions of police and the challenges of upholding the rule of law, the relative lack of resources for police, and the relationship between the military and the police.
The discussions centered on Swazi-led approaches to law enforcement and included frank discussions of the shortcomings and challenges faced by police and security forces worldwide.
Along with Houngnikpo, the Africa Center academic and outreach delegation included Mr. Vince Crawley, deputy director of communications and community affairs at ACSS, and Ms. Mary McGurn, the ACSS community affairs specialist whose portfolio includes Swaziland.
The workshop with the Royal Swaziland Police Service was part of the Africa Center’s Topical Outreach Program Series, or TOPS, which allows the Washington, D.C.,-based Africa Center to maintain an active network of relationships with community groups in nations across Africa. Typically, a small academic and outreach team visits nations with active ACSS communities once every one to two years to participate in workshops and symposiums. The July 31 workshop comes one year after Swaziland launched its ACSS Community Chapter, in July 2011. Members of the ACSS delegation underlined the importance of regular and active consultations with host nation counterparts. In the past half decade, the Africa Center has conducted more than 90 TOPS visits to 35 nations.
On August 1, the ACSS Swaziland Community Chapter held a topical symposium on security and development, with academic discussion also led by Dr. Houngnikpo and co-hosted by the U.S. Embassy.
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies is a U.S. Department of Defense institution for security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. Africa Center programs and symposiums gather perspectives and recommendations from a cross-section of international security-sector officials, public servants, and civil-society representatives. Thousands of security, government, and civil-society professionals from across Africa have attended African Center programs since the Center’s founding in 1999.