OFFICIALS from the world famous United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently visited Lesotho and provided “specialised training” to members of Lesotho’s security agencies to capacitate them to investigate and combat various forms of crime including global terrorism.
From 24 to 25 October, the FBI trained 36 members drawn from the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), the National Security Service (NSS), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO).
In a statement, the US embassy said “the training was focused on providing theoretical and practical knowledge to help law enforcement and civilian investigators from the LMPS, the NSS, the FIU and the DCEO to understand current practice and trends in global terrorism”.
“Topics included indicators of radicalisation, social media exploitation, financial intelligence, emerging trends and partnerships, terrorist financing investigations, and the intelligence cycle”.
The training is part of the US’ ongoing support for Lesotho as the latter embarks on processes which should culminate in the implementation of the multi-sector reforms which were recommended by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2016.
SADC recommended the implementation of constitutional, security sector, media, judicial and governance reforms to ensure lasting peace and stability without which meaningful socio-economic development cannot be achieved in Lesotho.
The reforms process has moved at a snail pace and Lesotho even missed the May 2019 SADC deadline for the full implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms.
In addition to registering its concerns about the missed deadline as well as government’s apparent failure to address widespread concerns about police brutality against civilians, the US has moved to provide assistance to ensure progress in the reforms process.
Commenting on the latest training exercise by the FBI officials, the US government said “as the government of Lesotho’s long-standing and steadfast diplomatic partner, the United States is eager to support the country as it pursues a comprehensive, inclusive, and transparent reforms process”.
“This training is one of numerous initiatives from the US Embassy in Maseru tailored to address specific needs within the law enforcement sector as well as support overall institutional reform efforts in the security sector as part of the national reforms process.
“The training also focused on the US embassy’s goal to increase cooperation and information sharing amongst Lesotho’s security sector agencies. Recent law enforcement training in Maseru and the United States has focused on border security, community policing, and global threat cooperation, among other topics,” the US embassy said in its statement to the Sunday Express.
The FBI is the principal investigative arm of the US Department of Justice and it assists other US law enforcement agencies with cooperative services such as fingerprint identification, laboratory examinations and training.
Headquartered in the US capital, Washington, DC, the FBI has 56 field offices and more than 350 resident agencies across the US. It also provides direction and support to more than 60 liaison offices known as legal attachés at US embassies around the world.
The Office of the Legal Attaché at the US Embassy in Pretoria works closely with the Regional Security Office at the US Embassy in Maseru to provide training and support to security sector agencies in Lesotho.
The FBI is not the only US agency to provide assistance to Lesotho.
In 2018, the US Secret Service conducted a training programme on cybersecurity and detecting counterfeit currency and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud.
The US regularly identifies and sends representatives of Lesotho’s law enforcement and supporting civilian agencies for training at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana. The ILEA is a US-funded programme in collaboration with the Botswana government. The ILEA’s mission is to “buttress democratic governance, through the rule of law, enhance the functioning of free markets through improved legislation, and law enforcement and increase social, political, and economic stability by combating narcotics trafficking and crime”.
According to the US embassy in Maseru, 49 Basotho have so far attended ILEA training programmes this year. Thirty-six 36 Basotho participated in 2018.