In recent months, we have seen that MIA officers follow the government orders and not the Belarusian law. There is an escalation of violence, repression and pressure on private citizens. Crimes against citizens are not investigated, evidence obtained during inspections is destroyed, including traces of crime, and justice is not restored. The norms of both international and domestic legislation are violated.
There is also a call for reform from the MIA officers. Many of them are cornered by financial obligations, contract terms, threats to personal safety from colleagues and superiors. Those who refuse to carry out criminal orders are beaten, persecuted, and criminal proceedings are instituted against them on far-fetched grounds.
There is a split within the system. Honest employees and entire divisions do their best to avoid involvement in political, criminal, and administrative cases, while also condemning excessive violence. They are tired of the nepotism, illiteracy, and lawlessness within the system. The honest employees do not support empowering the government-endorsed "neighborhood watch" groups that are known to be violent against peaceful protestors of Lukashenka’s regime.
Employees are deprived of the right to publicly speak about all these violations. There is no independent body in the country where they could apply for help and protection of their violated labor and civil rights — they are in the same situation as other Belarusians.
How will the NAM address the needs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to bring the transition period closer
We highlighted the top priorities to carry out the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- Collection and generalization of international experience in reforming the Ministry of Internal Affairs. We studied both positive and negative experiences of reforms and the structure of the police of the Scandinavian countries, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine, Canada, the United States, and others.
We understand the basic principles of reforming and the mistakes of reformers, as well as the peculiarities of Belarus and the applicability of various foreign approaches to the realities and problems of Belarus that we have to solve for the law enforcement system. We are not guided solely by international experience, but we recognize the importance of learning from it.
A notable advantage for Belarus is that employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus generally have a higher level of specialized professional education.
- Creation of a new organizational structure of the MIA. This is a big and serious work that is already underway.
The current structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs:
Diagram1 MIA strusture
We need to address a number of important issues: which of the existing units are subject to reform and elimination, which ones are to be merged, and which new ones are to be created.
It is necessary to understand who will lead these subdivisions in new Belarus and what subordination structure will establish appropriate checks and balances to avoid the concentration of power.
Most importantly, we need competent managers. Below is an example of a possible structure of the New Police at the country level (this is only one of the options being worked out):
Diagram2 New Police strusture
We are proposing that regional and local units have autonomy in order to reduce the likelihood of corruption and lawlessness. Those structures will have their own system of checks and balances. For example, the head of the Police of the Gomel Region will be independent from the state-level bodies and have the authority to make decisions over his own region without oversight.
We are open to suggestions and cooperation with the current security officials and welcome their opinion.
- The formation of trade unions for security force employees
- Creation of independent legal and psychological services for employees of the MIA
- Establishing a fair and transparent system for staff recruitment and promotion
- Introduction of a training system for rapid training of personnel and a system of continuous education for employees
- Development of flexible long-, medium- and short-term reform plans with the possibility of adjustment. Several short-term monthly plans for the first 12 months after the return of power to the legitimate government are already created. For example, if the decision for the creation of the Patrol Police is made, the NAM plan for this part may look like this:
- International cooperation. We have already established contacts with the following organizations and experts:
1) The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Organization under the umbrella of OSCE. We realize that people cannot conduct effective reform with internal resources only: without a well-established system of checks and balances that Belarus is currently lacking, any structure can be prone to corruption when individual people begin to act out of personal gain and not public interest, and work standards deteriorate over time.
2) Open Society Justice Initiative. An organization that has assisted many countries with police reforms, including Georgia and Ukraine. One of the declared goals of the organization is the establishment and maintenance of the rule of law.
3) Embassies and Consulates of different countries, expert consultants with experience in implementing police reforms.
4) Eurocop. Consolidation of 33 police trade unions from 26 European countries.
- Financial support of the reform. Costs, expenses and funding sources will be fully disclosed to the people and government. Negotiations are underway with the United Nations Development Program and EU governments, the Marshall Plan and other international programs that can be organized domestically (refunds from the corrupt officials, and so on). This division is also working on providing technical equipment for new Police buildings.
- Bills. It is necessary to develop draft amendments to the current legislation to ensure the implementation of the MIA reform.
Priority tasks during the transition period for MIA
1. Maintaining law and order in the country; creation of a situational headquarters for solving operational tasks and quick response
2. Suppression of destruction of evidence of unlawful acts by the current embattle government
3. Suppression of escapes and search for hiding suspects
4. Assistance to investigative and other authorities
5. Working with civil society organizations to immediately form civil oversight bodies for reform
6. Completion of the formation of the reform budget
7. Finalizing the composition of the reform team from risk managers and other specialists
8. Beginning the first stage of reform
⇲ download the plan pdf