ECOWAS lauds PRAWA, others on security initiative

The Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) has commended PRAWA and African Security Sector Network (ASSN) with the support of Geneva Center for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) in compiling a baseline study of Private Security Regulation (PSR) in the West African region.

Representative of ECOWAS Commission DR. Isaac Armstrong, gave the commendation in Abuja during the validation workshop on baseline study of private security regulation in the ECOWAS region.

Dr. Armstrong expressed the Commission’s interest in security sector reform, disclosing it wass readiness to support Private Security Companies (PSC) operating within the legal framework of their respective countries.

“Vigilante groups are very important when it comes to community policing. The state police is overstretched and CANNOT be everywhere, and vigilantes usually know their communities better and are encouraged to be there. However, the ECOWAS prohibits individuals from having arms without a license,” he explained.

“While there are perils of running private security companies just for business purposes, we cannot deny the economic advantages of it, people are getting employed.

He therefore calls for a balance between business and professionalism, and “create a balance between business and being professional as It is also a help to member states security service to ease the responsibility of state policing”.

At the event, the Executive Director of PRAWA Uju Agomuo, lamented the increasing concerns over rising wave of crime, armed conflict and the evident inability of state security actors to provide adequate protection of lives and property which has resulted in the proliferation of private security companies in the ECOWAS Region.

She noted that major negative indications of this development are increased cases of human rights abuse, high numbers of illegal and unlicensed private security companies, and poor security service delivery. These, she added are further exacerbated by weak accountability and oversight mechanisms, ineffective regulations and outdated legislations.

“PRAWA in partnership with African Security Sector Network and the support of Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF) conducted a Baseline Study of Private Security Regulation in the ECOWAS to strengthen private security governance through the enhancement of knowledge on the challenges and opportunities facing private companies, and promotion of effective oversight and accountability mechanism through the implementation of regional policy frameworks.

“The research which was conducted in five countries within the region found that private security companies play critical roles in the security architecture of member states. The research also shows that weak accountability and oversight mechanism, ineffective regulations and outdated legislations have made it difficult to address issues of human rights abuses, illegal and unlicensed private security companies, and poor security service delivery in the region,” she explained.