Thursday, September 21, 2006

Post-Conflict Policing and Stabilization Operations: Challenges in the Asia Pacific Region and the Role of the Australian Federal Police

Event Title: Post Conflict Policing and Stabilization Operations: Challenges in the Asia Pacific Region and the Role of the Australian Federal Police
Sponsors: Transnational Threats Project (TNT) and the Australian Federal Police
Location: CSIS
Date: September 15, 2006
Time: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Approximate number of Attendees: 45
Intern Attending: Ashley Smith

Featured Speaker: AFP Police Commissioner, Michael Joseph Keelty, APM

The AFP serves as both Australia’s national and international law enforcer. Therefore, Keelty undertakes many missions both domestically and abroad. He is working with an Australian outfit, the International Deployment Group, which is working in the Solomon Islands, East Timor, Papua New Guinea and the Middle East. The UN will also be reentering East Timor.

When considering international peace and security, there is a large question as to when it is appropriate to begin policing verses defending. Here, oftentimes different opinions lend different answers. Sometimes it happens that the AFP is invited to a country by the government, but then they end up at odds with those who invited them to be there in the first place. Australia had been working in Papua New Guinea, but the constitution of that government offered the Australians no immunity, so they were forced to leave.

Keelty pointed out the difficulty of changing “corruption culture”. One of the problems with relying solely on NGOs for aid of any kind, verses governmental intervention, is that there is no relationship developed between the two countries. Given that peace is created through long-term commitment, these relationships are very important.

In discussing intelligence sharing as it relates to policing, Keelty pointed out that it is not always advantageous to do so. For example, when battling corruption, one would certainly not want to disclose sensitive materials to the government at fault. Additionally, some have accused Interpol of being “equivocal” on the issue of terrorism. At the same time, in countries where the government and constitution are in place, policing may not be necessary.

One important thing to keep in mind when entering another country is that country’s culture. Understanding is very important, particularly when it comes to understanding local laws before attempting an intervention.

Keelty noted that there will be an increase in the number of Australian police forces that participate in international policing efforts, as the AFP’s international role has widely been seen as successful. He pointed out that the public is very much in favor of the Australian police in general and that no actual recruiting is necessary. Their online applications bring an adequate number of new recruits, who come in with more schooling and experience than many other international police agencies – the average age of recruitment being 29.

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