THE POLICE FORCE DURING THE DERGUE REGIME

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CHAPTER THREE: THE POLICE AND POLITICS IN ETHIOPIA FROM 1974 TO 1990

INTRODUCTION

The police went through structural and ideological changes during the Dergue regime indicating once more the dire consequences to the public safety when the police are controlled by the interest groups or are accountable to the ruling political party thus being used to further the narrow political interests. This indicates the need for the fundamental principles of policing that the police should be first and foremost accountable to the community that they serve. They should be made up of independent civil servants, serving the people, under the law, no matter who holds the reign of power.
This chapter will indicate how Mengistu Hailemariam who was leading the Dergue that overthrow the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie disintegrated policing in Ethiopia and how the remnants of the police and other armed forces were given police powers to further the political interests of the Dergue regime. The use of the Red Terror (mass execution by the regime) to imprison, torture and execute a large number of Ethiopians who were seen to be siding with the opposition will also be indicated. Mengistu Hailemariam initially received baking from Russia and Cuba during the Somalian and the Ethiopian war and this military and logistical support were later used to assist him to plan the fighting of the opposition within the country.

THE POLICE FORCE DURING THE DERGUE REGIME

Emperor Haile Selassie who ruled Ethiopia for 44 years operated an Imperial Court of a highly elitist government that oversaw expensive developmental projects that did little to alleviate the massive inequality that characterised the country (Clapham, 1988:32). Due to some of these challenges that the country experienced, the Emperor was overthrown in September 1974 and the military committee known as the Dergue took over power and ruled the country. The Dergue that was initially popular became unpopular due to their policies and the mass executions of the people with dissenting views, leading many Ethiopians to join the opposition groups while others fled the country. Even within the Dergue itself people who did not agree with their mode of operation were deposed and executed. A typical example being that of General Aman who was put under house arrest and executed two months later (Anonymous, 2015).
The overthrow of the government by the Dergue soon demonstrated the dangers of the military rule. Whereas the autocratic rule of the imperial regime was relatively benign, the Dergue ruled in a lawless, brutal and totalitarian way. The internal security system created by the Dergue dominated all organs of government and civil society (James, 1994:60). Soon after the overthrow of the imperial regime, the Dergue moved to consolidate the revolution at the grass-roots level by creating peasant associations and kebeles (urban dweller association). These associations had tribunals that permitted them to exercise criminal and civil jurisdiction over legal matters. More important, the government also legitimised local defence squads, granting them police powers within designated areas. These Defence Squads protected public property and enforced land reform measures, but their original political mandate was the rounding up and disposition of suspected government opponents (Library of Congress, 1991: 32).
The then Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) supplied the paramilitary police with weapons and vehicles and installed a nationwide teleprinter system, while Israeli counterinsurgency specialists trained commandos and frontier guards. About 5 000 constabulary police, mostly recruited locally, served in Eritrea, as did 2 500 commandos (Library of Congress, 1991:44). The Dergue severely circumscribed the authority of the national police because it was identified with the old regime of Emperor Haile Selassie and regional interests. The authorities accused constables of protecting landowners against peasants in the countryside and arresting supporters of the military regime in Addis Ababa as well as of being members of the rightist opposition. In Eritrea the army had already taken over police functions by January 1975 from local police units that were suspected of being sympathetic to the secessionists Eritrea. The Asmera (which is now the capital city of Eritrea) police voluntarily stayed at their posts for some time after their dismissal to protect civilians from attack by unruly soldiers (Library of Congress, 1991: 34).
According to Andargachaw (2004:24), the Dergue did not acknowledge the importance of the police during the early periods of the revolution thus creating the confusion as to whether or not the police should be replaced by the militia. This among others was indicated by their failure to amend the laws, therefore, in theory the duties and responsibilities of the police remained as stipulated in the Police Proclamation No 6 of 1942, which is the founding proclamation of modern policing in Ethiopia. During this period the police force maintained more or less the same structure and they were still centrally commanded from Addis Ababa (Shuffa, 2005:16).
In 1978 the People’s Protection Brigades took over local law enforcement duties that were previously assigned to the constabulary that were created from an estimated 10 000 defence squad vigilantes. Their function was to act as local law enforcement agencies within the jurisdiction of each peasant association and kebele (urban dweller association). Although promoted as instruments of decentralisation, the brigades were accountable to the security chief of the Central Committee of the Commission to Organize the Party of the Workers of Ethiopia (COPWE). Although the People’s Protection Brigades retained a political role, after 1980 these paramilitary units concentrated on local police duties. Brigade members received up to five months’ training in police and military tactics from East German instructors and some brigade personnel had served on active duty in Eritrea, Tigray, and the Ogaden (Toggia, 2008b: 17).
As a result of these changes the police force that had 28 000 members in 1974 was now shrunk to 17 000 members by 1982 as the government dismantled it by various means such as the creation of the new Eighth Division commando units from the police as well as making some police officers to join the augmented 9 000 member paramilitary Mobile Emergency Police Force for deployment in counterinsurgency operations. In practice the police were left without any real power because most of their mandates were taken by different organisations. The section of the investigation department that was dealing with serious investigations was placed under the special investigation department that was under the direct command of the Dergue committee. The section of lower level of crime investigation, prevention and law enforcement were placed under the local administration, which were authorised to imprison, investigate and even kill offenders. The revolutionary squad of the urban dwellers and rural peasant associations also took some of the police functions and the police were ultimately left with the role of traffic policing as even the police stations were run by revolutionary guard committees (Andargatchew, 1986:70).
This effectively confined the role of the police to the enforcement of the government rules and the elimination of the opposition members. As a result the police gained a reputation for arbitrary arrests, detention and killings (Henze, 1998:140). This entrenched the fright and flight mode from the general public when they see the police fearing that they would be captured to be turned into fighters or be imprisoned. The country was at one stage engulfed by fear that those who were arrested by the police were killed (Denney & Kassaye, 2013:3).
As stated above the Dergue regime did not really trust the police because they regarded them as being loyal to the then government of the Emperor and this made the Dergue to increasingly use the army for investigations and the maintenance of social order. People’s Protection Brigades were used to enforce law at the local level thus assuming the responsibilities of police constabulary. During the Dergue regime the role of the police was emphasised as the suppression of political dissent and this eroded the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public (Human Rights Watch/Africa, 1997:14).
The Dergue government went further to grant police powers to people’s defense squads operating within specific peasant association or kebele (urban dweller association) constituencies to suppress political dissent by identifying and disposing people that they suspected as the opponents of the Dergue rule. This People’s Defense Squads were merged into People’s Protection Brigades in 1978 and they were offered formal police training and continued with their police duties within the peasant associations and kebeles (Human Rights Watch/Africa, 1997:17).

RECRUITMENT OF POLICE OFFICERS AND THE ORGANISATION OF THE POLICE STRUCTURE

Neguse (1956:17) states that Ethiopia had its own forms of a police force for centuries. It gradually evolved to be a modern police agency with the passing of the Ethiopian Imperial Police Force Proclamation No 6 of 1942. This led to the establishment of the Abadina Police College (now called the Ethiopian Police University College) that expedited the use of scientific knowledge and professional skills in policing. This development took a back stage during the Dergue regime as the police and other armed forces in the country were used for political expediency to suppress any dissenting voice in the country. Local militias, called Aboyot Tibeka which literarily means the Guard of Revolution, were involved in many of the police functions, except few investigation activities (Tesfaye, 2004). Even though this situation improved during the last era of the regime, the police structures and functions were highly centralised.
During the Dergue, there was no clear policing strategy and what could be distilled from this unclear strategy according to Task Force Report (1983:71), was that in order to prevent crime the revolution was to: destroy the old regime and build socialist government as this by itself was taught to be the approach that could decrease crime; transferring the police work to the militia; taking criminals who build their lives on crime to agricultural land to make them productive; organising the workers and making sure they expose criminals; and preventing the consumption of alcohol during day time etc. (Shuffa, 2014:67).
During this period the police were essentially playing a political role of supressing political dissent as the local law enforcement role shifted to People’s Protection Brigades. The Dergue government described the police mission as contributing to the intensification of the class struggle (Library of Congress, 1991:18). Police constables were recruited at an early age and trained in their native regions. Although training standards were not uniform, the training was designed to equip police officers who were stationed in remote areas to be self-sufficient in establishing and maintaining their posts (Library of Congress, 1991:18).
In-service and specialised training were very limited because they were only conducted in Addis Ababa. In politically stable rural areas where duty requirements and supervision were less exacting, the police were less efficient than their urban counterparts. A high percentage of rural constables could neither read nor write and therefore did not keep records of their activities. Many crimes were considered to be matters concerning only the persons involved and were often ignored by the police unless one of the interested parties filed a complaint (Library of Congress, 1991:18). The police in Addis Ababa were more organised and equipped than the police in the regions because they consisted of units such as uniformed, detective, and traffic units as well as facilities like a police laboratory and many such utilities that are not found in the regions (Library of Congress, 1991:18).
Informed by their strong belief that the unitary structure of government strengthens the solidarity, while the federal structure could open the window for separation, the Dergue regime included in the 1987 Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Republic Constitution that Ethiopia is a unitary state. This justified the centralisation of every facet of government including the Ethiopian Police Force. There was the Central Police Force Head Quarters and the Commander in Chief who had almost 14 Provincial Police Force Head offices whose commanders were directly accountable to him. There were also other lower levels forces accountable to the provincial force commanders and lower level commanders (Tesfaye, 2004:24).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 
DEDICATION 
SUMMARY 
DECLARATION 
ACRONYMS 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL ORIENTATION
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.3 A BRIEF HISTORY OF POLICING AND POLITICS
1.4 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.8 THE DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.9 ORGANISATION OF THE THESIS
1.10 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER TWO: POLICING AND POLITICS IN ETHIOPIA FROM 1916 TO 1973
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 THE ORIGIN OF THE ETHIOPIAN POLICE FORCE
2.3 THE USE OF THE POLICE DURING THE IMPERIAL REGIME
2.4 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE POLICE AND POLITICAL OFFICE BEARERS
2.5 THE NATURE AND EXTENTS OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN THE POLICE
2.6 THE EFFECT OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN POLICING
2.7 MEASURES TO DEAL WITH POLITICAL INTERFERENCE
2.8 POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
2.9 POLICE OVERSIGHT BODIES
2.10 THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MEASURES THAT ARE DESIGNED TO DEAL WITH POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
2.11 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER THREE: THE POLICE AND POLITICS IN ETHIOPIA FROM 1974 TO 1990
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2. THE POLICE FORCE DURING THE DERGUE REGIME
3.3 RECRUITMENT OF POLICE OFFICERS AND THE ORGANISATION OF THE POLICE STRUCTURE
3.4 THE ROLE OF THE POLICE DURING THE REGIMES’ CRISES
3.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FOUR: POLICE AND POLITICS IN ETHIOPIA FROM 1991 TO DATE
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE POLICE FORCE
4.3 THE ETHIOPIAN FEDERAL POLICE COMMISSION AND THE REGIONAL POLICE
4.4 THE POLICE FORCE DURING THE TRANSITIONAL PERIOD
4.5 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE POLICE AND POLITICS
4.6 POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY
4.7 POLICE OVERSIGHT BODIES
4.8 THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF POLITICAL INTERVENTION IN THE POLICE
4.9 THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE POLICE DURING THE STATE OF EMERGENCY
4.10 THE EFFECT OF POLITICAL INFLUENCE ON POLICING
4.11 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
5.3 RESEARCH DEMARCATION
5.4 RESEARCH SAMPLE
5.5 DATA COLLECTION
5.6 DATA ANALYSIS
5.7 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
5.8 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
5.9 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER SIX: RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.1. INTRODUCTION
6.2 LITERATURE FINDINGS
6.3 EMPIRICAL FINDINGS
6.4 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER SEVEN: RECOMMENDATIONS AND THE CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY
7.1 INTRODUCTION
7.2 RECOMMENDATIONS
7.3 CONCLUSION
LIST OF REFERENCES
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
AN ANALYSIS OF THE INFLUENCE OF POLITICS ON POLICING IN ETHIOPIA

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