The European Union (EU) is increasing funding for its "Community Policing" project in Myanmar by 30 per cent, from 10 million to 13 million Euros, and has agreed to assist in the formation of a media centre for the Myanmar Police Force, according to an of
EU official Karin Deckenbach made the comments during at a three-day workshop on community policing and crowd control at a luxury hotel in Yangon, which ended yesterday.
Deputy colonels, colonels and high-ranking officers from the national force as well as the Yangon Regional Police Force attended the EU workshop.
Deckenbach, who helped facilitate the workshop, said she hoped to “enhance the relationship between media and police members by the time the workshop ended”.
“I am also aiming to create a media centre at the Yangon Regional Police Force,” she said, adding that the director-general of the national force had already signed an agreement in Nay Pyi Taw to establish such a centre.
Deputy Police Colonel Myint Htwe confirmed that the deal had been reached. “The Myanmar Police Force’s headquarter agreed to the EU’s wish to establish a media centre,” the colonel said. Details on what the centre will do, however, have not been conveyed to police officers. “We have not received any instructions yet. We will prepare for the establishment of media centre when we receive an order to do so,” Myint Htwe added.
The EU said earlier this year that it was “funding a police reform project in Myanmar that includes community policing, crowd management, improving accountability, and enhancing the role of civil society and the media”.
The Community Policing project was launched in Yangon’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt township in January of this year and expanded to Sanchaung Township in March, according to a press release from the EU. The training focuses on the key areas of community policing such as “service delivery, working in partnership, and problem solving”, the press release said. The project aims to assist the police and other authorities “to develop multi-partnership action plans aimed at meaningful cooperation between police and the citizens, and civil society organisations within the township”.
“The project will provide capacity building not only to the local police units but also directly to civil society and media representatives, so that all actors can contribute to develop a relationship that is built on mutual respect, trust and cooperation,” the EU said.
The project is also a response to police handling of protests over the Letpadaungtaung copper mine project and the communal conflict in Meikhtila. Reform of the Myanmar Police Force plays a vital role in the democratisation process, EU officials said at this week’s workshop.
The media centre is necessary to connect the force with civic organisations as well as the media. According to the EU, the project was initially scheduled to end in March next year. The additional funding will likely see it extended.