663 officers of the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) have graduated following a three-week ‘intensive’ in-service training at the Justice and Security Regional Hub in Gbarnga, Bong County, a release has said.
According to the release, the training was conducted in close consultation with the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice and other principal institutional counterparts.
It forms part of activities being implemented under the UNDP/OHCHR Joint Program, aimed at supporting the Government of Liberia (GoL) in its efforts to advance critical justice and security sector reforms as well as improve the delivery of justice, security and protection services across the country.
Funding resources are being provided by the governments of Sweden and Ireland.
184 of the officers that participated in the training are women. According to Danny Sartee, director for administration, more than 40 women hold leadership positions in the LIS.
Colonel George Suomie, who turned over the graduates, said the exercise is part of the completion of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) process of the country.
Suomie hailed the outstanding discipline and interest exhibited by the officers attending the training.
He assured that the knowledge transferred and capacity building skills imparted will contribute to a more proficient, effective, efficient, professional and disciplined corps of officers who will help protect Liberia’s borders.
“’Training is everything and everything is training’ and we appreciate the support of all partners, including UNDP, for this great opportunity once again afforded our officers,” Suomie said.
He described the training as successful, with no report of any casualties, though there were cases that involved minor malaria, fever and pressure.
UNDP Resident Representative Pa Lamin Beyai was represented by Marzu Stubblefield Quaye, project assistant under the governance program.
Ms. Quaye expressed appreciation to the graduates for availing themselves for the training, encouraging them to remain committed to their duties and responsibilities to the country.
“Protecting the borders of this country is not an easy task. Your duty is extremely critical and requires diligence, professionalism and commitment,” she emphasized. Ms. Quaye also mentioned that the duties being performed by immigration officers will always be recognized because their functions are strategic.
LIS Commissioner-General Robert Budy congratulated the officers for a job well done and expressed appreciation to UNDP and partners for the continued support.
Commissioner Budy said the training was necessary because LIS was lagging behind in the final structure of the Security Sector Reform (SSR) process.
He emphasized that the government attaches premium on border security, to avoid infiltration of illegal migrants and substances that negatively affect the stability of the country, with human trafficking becoming prevalent in Liberia. Budy urged graduates to prepare themselves to utilize the skills obtained and to also transfer knowledge to in-coming officers.
The training covered courses on investigation, fraud, human trafficking and the new act of the LIS, etc.
The UNDP/OHCHR Joint Program works to enhance the capacity of institutions, to build public confidence in the different justice and security systems. It also strengthens access to justice, security and protection services, especially for women and girls.
Interventions are designed with a view to ensuring sustainability and linking activities to “system-level policy development”.