Ivory Coast - National Gendarmerie
The gendarmerie was considered better trained and organized than the armed forces due to the assistance of French advisors. The Gendarmerie is equipped with light weapons, four patrol boats and a number of VAB armored personnel carriers.
Responsibility for internal security in Cote d'lvoire was shared by three ministries in a coordinated, multilayered pattern adapted from the French colonial system. The Ministry of Interior was responsible primarily for territorial and local administration and included local police forces; the Ministry of Internal Security was charged with state security and national police functions; and the Ministry of Defense and Maritime Affairs (primarily through the National Gendarmerie) provided paramilitary forces throughout the country in coordination with the respective regional and local authorities.
The National Gendarmerie, consisted of a headquarters staff, four legions (corresponding to the four military regions) and a professional training academy, the Gendarmerie School (Ecole de Gendarmerie). This national constabulary force was formed in October 1960, replacing the Guard of the Republic that had been established in 1958. In 1988 Colonel Koffi Botty was the high commander of the National Gendarmerie, having replaced Brigadier General N'daw in 1983. The National Gendarmerie was responsible for defending rural areas and maintaining domestic order, thereby complementing the conventional tactical capabilities of the regional military commands. Its effective strength of 1,500 in the late 1960s doubled to 3,000 in the early 1970s, and in 1987 it was estimated at 4,500. The headquarters included an intelligence bureau; administrative and training center; bureaus of logistics, personnel, and budget planning; and a security and foreign liaison division.
The four National Gendarmerie legions each had a general staff, detached companies that were deployed in and around the major towns and population centers in their respective prefectures, and a small number of mobile squads for rapid reaction and general support.
Before 1960 auxiliaries and auxiliary students trained in Dakar. In 1960 an officer instruction center was created in Abidjan. In 1961 the National Gendarmerie set up its own academy, the Gendarmerie School, in Abidjan. The school trained NCOs (recruited from among the police and other qualified persons) and constables (recruited from among qualified students). The training period lasted about eleven months, at the end of which graduating constables received a police aptitude certificate. NCOs received an equivalent diploma. Students received instruction in both police techniques and military training. The academy also offered eight-week in-service training courses for NCOs and motorcycle police. The academy has graduated a large number of NCOs but only a few officers.
The treatment of the northern people by the then-RDR-leaning gendarmerie was deplorable and often rapacious, creating animosity towards the central government (especially its armed forces). As evidence of this, when the Forces Nouvelles took control of the region, they "eliminated" the most egregious offenders within the gendarmerie, but let go unharmed many who had not preyed upon the population.
The police and the gendarmerie were partially operational throughout the country in 2014. Only in Abidjan, Bouaké and Daloa were the security services adequately equipped and resourced, limiting in most areas their ability to conduct investigations and fight crime, including sexual and gender-based violence. The population continued to lack confidence in the security services.
Police are largely ineffective at deterring crime and need significant training. They lack communication equipment, weapons, and vehicles that severely limits their capacity to respond. Many gendarmes and police stations outside Abidjan have just one vehicle for the entire security force and often must receive calls via cell phone to attempt to respond to emergencies. The judicial system is ill-equipped to process and incarcerate criminals. Any response is slow and limited generally to writing a report. There are frequent allegations of police corruption. Incidents of police or security force harassment or detention of foreigners are rare but do occur. Numerous checkpoints may be used by police or security forces to extort money from drivers and passengers.
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