Mounties Go Overseas

By Harman, Alan | Law & Order, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Mounties Go Overseas


Harman, Alan, Law & Order


RCMP part of UN operations in East Timor

Corporal Magdi Saleh of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police marked the night of Oct. 10, 1999, listening to constant gunfire and watching tracer rounds light up the United Nations compound in Dili, the capital of East Timor. It was the 10th anniversary of the RCMP joining international programs to send officers to help bring law and order to global trouble spots.

Saleh and Staff Sgt. George Clanfield of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Service escorted convoys to the Dili airport under fire almost every day. At one point, the UN decided the risks were becoming so high that it offered to evacuate the two officers. But the officers stayed; they said they couldn't abandon the people and wanted to see the mission to the end.

The decision was in keeping with Canada's policy of assisting in foreign policing operations. Since Oct. 10, 1989, when the RCMP announced the deployment of 100 police officers to Namibia on a joint peacekeeping mission with the United Nations, more than 1,400 Canadian police officers have participated in the program.

"These men and women dedicate their time, energy, enthusiasm and professionalism in the performance of their duties overseas," RCMP Commissioner J.P. Murray said. "They often put their lives at risks, work under very stressful and difficult conditions while being separated from loved ones. They have the satisfaction of knowing they have contributed to enhancing the safety, living conditions and democratic rights of people around the world."

The success of the Namibia operation was influential in the United Nations decision to use police officers-instead of the military-in a range of peacekeeping and peace support activities during the 1990s.

"Former Commissioner Norman Inkster was right when he said that the Namibia mission would go down in the history books," Murray said. "It was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the RCMP."

Since the Namibia deployment, the RCMP has successfully completed more than 20 peacekeeping and peace support missions world-wide:

(sec)Namibia ( 1989-1990)

(sec)former Yugoslavia (1992-1995)

(sec)Haiti (1993-2000)

(sec)South Africa (1994)

(sec)Rwanda (1995-1996)

(sec)Bosnia (1996-2000)

(sec)Central African Republic ( 1998)

(sec)Sierra Leone ( 1998)

(sec)Guatemala ( 1996-2000)

(sec)Western Sahara (1998, 1999)

(sec)The Hague, the Netherlands (1998)

(sec)Croatia (1997-1998)

(sec)Kosovo (1999-2000)

(sec)East Timor (1999-2000)

The objective is to share expertise to help improve other countries' abilities to police democratically, thus contributing to peace and order. This is done by playing the roles of peacemaker, peacekeeper, peace builder and technical advisor; teaching police forces new policing techniques; and helping restrict the environment in which crime and corruption can flourish.

The Mounties have convinced 28 Canadian provincial and municipal police forces to join in the international missions. The Montreal Urban Community Police Service was the first to join the RCMP, cooperating on an international mission in 1995.

"Because of our scarce resources, the contribution of these police forces is important," Murray said. "In the coming year, special efforts will be made at furthering this partnership through on-going communications and dialogue."

More than 100 RCMP members are currently serving on international missions. Provincial and municipal colleagues bring the total Canadian contingent to close to 200 members on missions around the world.

"The demand for Canadian police expertise is high and constantly growing,"-said Chief Superintendent Peter Miller, in charge of the RCMP's International Training and Peacekeeping Branch. This branch selects, trains and deploys the Canadian police personnel and provides them and their families with logistical support. …

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