After two months of intensive planning, the day finally arrived for the start of a two-week law enforcement training seminar for 45 police officers, customs officials, and immigration specialists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Co-hosted by the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Regional Security Office (RSO) at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, this course marked the first time INL would sponsor this type of training in the DRC.
As we pushed past three goats roaming in front of the Ecole de Formation des Officiers de la Police Judiciare (Judicial Police Training Center) in Kinshasa, we entered the building to find a crowded room. The excitement in the room was palpable, as the police officers eagerly discussed what this course might be all about. Over the two week period, participants studied how to conduct investigations, combat trafficking in persons, and identify fraudulent immigration documents. They also learned how to use basic investigative tools including surveillance techniques, crime scene investigation and management, and crime scene sketching. Course instructors included representatives from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Diplomatic Security Assistant Regional Security Office Investigator (ARSO-I). The trainees were thrilled to be part of this unprecedented seminar. "We are very grateful to the U.S. government for approaching the police to jointly plan an international law enforcement training seminar in Kinshasa," said one course participant. He added, "This is the first time the Americans have come to us, to our home, to share ideas and help us improve our ability to do our job."
Through the collective efforts of everyone involved, we saw the beginning of a sustainable training program emerge. We developed a strong relationship with the police academy’s staff though a collaborative seminar preparation and implementation strategy, which resulted in a stronger partnership between the Regional Security Office and the local police. Seminars like these, implemented in partnership with our Congolese law enforcement colleagues, are sustainable avenues to address specific legal issues, which is critical to the DRC’s rule of law reform and stability.
The impact of the seminar was immediate: just one week after the training ended, one of our participants reported to U.S. Embassy officials that he relied on the knowledge and skills gained through this training to successfully investigate a human trafficking criminal ring operating in Kinshasa. The Congolese Police believe the individual under investigation by our seminar graduate had sold many girls aged 14-19 to a criminal counterpart overseas. After completing the seminar, the officer stated that he is better prepared to investigate trafficking in persons cases.
Since 2008, INL has funded programs in the DRC to increase security along the country’s borders, bolster the movement of non-conflict minerals, provide support and access to justice for survivors of sexual assault, and improve the efficiency of the police pay system. To learn more about INL programs visit our website.