Remarks at Liberian National Police Academy

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Monrovia, Liberia
August 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and it is an absolute honor for me to be here this afternoon at this national police training academy, and to see the future of Liberia before my eyes. I want to thank the special representative of the secretary general, Representative Loej, for her outstanding work as head of the UN’s mission in Liberia. And I especially appreciated those very important remarks about the progress that has been made cannot be taken for granted; there is still much work ahead of us.

I also wish to thank the inspector general of the police. I thank you, Inspector General, for your leadership. And to all the ministers who are here, and especially to President Sirleaf – her outstanding work as the president of this country over the last three and a half years has focused very specifically on making sure that we’ve had security in Liberia.

Now President Sirleaf and the special representative and the inspector general and all of the ministers could have worked very hard through trying to create a Liberian national police force. But unless the men and women of Liberia stepped forward to serve their country, it would not have happened. You know that maintaining law and order is a critical element in sustaining peace and stability. Your fellow countrymen and women, and particularly the children of Liberia, need you. They need you not only to protect them and to provide security; they need you to help heal the wounds left by 14 years of conflict. They need you to help renew the promise of Liberia.

The challenges you face are even greater, because as you know, in the past, some elements of Liberia’s police force betrayed the public’s trust. When President Obama visited Ghana last month, he spoke about the Africans taking control of their destiny and striving for the peace and security necessary for progress. You are living examples of President Obama’s words. For too long in Liberia, the police instilled fear. Today, you must fight fear. For too long, the police undermined the rule of law. Today, you must oppose it.

I can imagine how difficult the training has been. In fact, training professional police officers is one of the hardest jobs to do in post-conflict situations. But you have been given some of the best training available. And it is important that you recognize the investment that has been made in you not only by your fellow Liberians, but by people who believe in the role you will play in securing a positive, prosperous, peaceful, progressive future.

President Sirleaf reported to us on your progress when she came to Washington earlier this year. And we talked about ways the United States could continue to strengthen the LNP. We have been proud to work with the United Nations and with the wonderful trainers and police officers who have come from around the world. Liberia has become a powerful example of how the international community can respond together when a nation is ready to move forward.

And I especially wish to salute the women who have joined this year’s training class and those who have come before. What we have found around the world is that women police officers are essential, along with their male counterparts, to provide the stability of peace and security.

U.S. police officers and advisors have had the opportunity to collaborate closely with the LNP. We have focused much of our effort on the LNP Emergency Response Unit. Our investment in the ERU, including the new headquarters that will be opening soon, is a down payment on Liberia’s future security. And I am pleased to announce today that in next year’s budget, the United States will increase its financial support for training the LNP. (Applause.)

So let me thank you. Thank you for your courage, for your service, for your commitment to continuing Liberia’s already remarkable progress. The United States is honored to work with you. President Obama and I are committed and dedicated to seeing that you succeed. We look forward to expanding our partnership in the future, and I congratulate this class for making this decision to be part of ensuring that Liberia’s future is a really positive one. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: (In progress.) – to the president, the Secretary of State of (inaudible) and Her Excellency (inaudible). We’ve been informed that the Secretary of State of the United States will be accepting a few questions from the new recruits. So if I may have any volunteers to ask the Secretary of State a few questions? I have to recognize you. Now you are recognized. You may stand up and ask a question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) of the National Police (inaudible) Academy (inaudible).

MODERATOR: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary of State and the distinguished president (inaudible), we acknowledge our president now yesterday. Ma’am, we are very grateful. We are also very grateful, Madame President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency, Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to be present (inaudible) us today. Ma’am, we are very grateful.

Your Excellency, looking at the many important role your company has played and continue to play as it relates to the security of (inaudible) reform in Liberia, do you have plans to provide some international training for the (inaudible) police training academy (inaudible) as a means of (inaudible)? And what about (inaudible) your government expects as it relates to the security sector (inaudible) in our country? Thank you, ma’am.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much for your commitment to serve along with all of the other recruits. As the president said, we are committed to security sector reform and to building a strong, positive, disciplined, professional security sector. And we have worked very closely with your military and are very proud of the progress that has been made there, and we have worked very closely with the United Nations and other donors along with the Liberian Government on behalf of the police training.

As I said in my remarks, we will be putting more money into police training. We will also be working with the government to determine what other needs are necessary, because I agree with President Sirleaf that in the absence of peace, security and stability, all of the other dreams for Liberia cannot be realized. So the fact that the president and the government have made secure – the security sector a principal, primary focus of the efforts of this government means that we will be your partner to make sure we do all we can to provide the training and the equipment and the support, along with other friends led by the United Nations.

PRN: 2009/T11-50