Today in Sarajevo I met with Nina Carroll, senior program adviser at the U.S. Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, better known as ICITAP. Around the world, ICITAP trains police forces and prosecutors to help develop effective and transparent law enforcement institutions. In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), ICITAP has helped the country form new investigative agencies and strengthen its community policing, among other projects.
When ICITAP started working in BiH in 1996, it helped the police force understand that its mission is not to “protect the state” but rather to “protect the citizens.” “Protect the citizens” is a key democratic principle, she said, and one I think many in democratic countries take for granted. ICITAP helped the police establish new procedures and institutions to better do this. For example, they helped police departments create their first internal affairs offices. These offices where police officers’ own conduct is reviewed are indicators that officers are not above the law.
Often times when discussing rule of law, one thinks immediately of the judiciary. But police are just as integral. By protecting the citizens, law enforcement is doing its part to make rule of law – and democracy – work.