Development of Crime Prevention Strategy kicks off in Ethiopia

12 July 2016 - Many people still believe that it is only through the police and the courts that crime in our communities can be reduced. But the criminal justice system alone has proved insufficient to prevent and control crime. And consequently, most countries have in recent years launched efforts to tackle crime in a more sustainable and effective way.

In Ethiopia, for instance, UNODC and the Federal Government kick started the development of a National Crime Prevention Strategy on 1 July precisely with the goal of tackling the conditions allowing crime to flourish, supporting groups that are at-risk of committing crimes and victims of crime alike, as well as promoting the reintegration of offenders so as to keep them from reoffending.

The General Attorney's Office will be leading this initiative working hand in hand with the Federal Police. UNODC has in turn supported the process from the outset, coming up with a roadmap that should guide the development of the strategy in addition to assisting the taskforce that is moving forward the strategy development process throughout 2016.

Ms. Belen Teferi Taye of the General Attorney's Office and a member of the taskforce, said that "in order to prevent crime, prosecution is not enough. Before you need prevention mechanisms ranging from economic integration measures aimed at creating jobs and start-up businesses to technology systems to detect and curb terrorism, among other components."

Such an ambitious endeavor requires expert advice from a variety of actors. For this reason, in the course of developing the strategy, the taskforce will consult different institutions with a distinct expertise - rather than only the justice sector - with a view to make the document "inclusive and truly useful."

Comander Dawit Afework of the Federal Police and a member of the taskforce, casted a spotlight on community policing practices underway in Ethiopia. These practices play a significant role in any crime prevention strategy. "Community policing," he pointed out, "is conceived to prevent crime through the participation of the local communities for good reason: Local people know the causes of local problems, and are best suited to assess the situations in their communities and to point to the solutions."  

Community police has in fact been introduced around the country. And a handful of successful experiences stand out when it comes to preventing early marriage and domestic violence, Commander Afework highlighted.

Mr. Gebremeskel Gebrewahed, taskforce member and senior researcher at the Justice and Legal Research System Institute, under the General Attorney's Office, stressed that a fruitful crime prevention strategy should be "time-bounded and cost-effective." And added that after completing the strategy, "It will be implemented and used all over Ethiopia to tackle the country's most important challenges."