Swiss Security Expert Speaks on ‘Law-relevant Observations’ in Liberia

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Monrovia – Sixty-five-year-old Felix F. Walz, retired Police officer, and a citizen of Switzerland, and former Head Operations Leeward of United Nations Police (UNPOL), didn’t sound ‘diplomatically pretentious’ when expressing his “four observations” at the “Community Policing” meeting organized by the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Paynesville, outside of Monrovia, on Sunday, May 6, 2018. 

“Please allow me to disclose my observations on crimes and security in Liberia, a country I have fallen in deep love with since I arrived into this great Africa nation nearly five years ago,” the citizen of Switzerland announced to a gathering of representatives of the LNP, various community in the Paynesville belt, Community Watch Forum of Liberia (CWFL), and national commercial motorbike riders’ association.

“Every day more and more big, shiny black vehicles with escorting vehicles seems to have a privileged right to neglect all the traffic rules, driving on opposite lanes at high speeds, endangering pedestrians, Motorcyclists, commercial taxi drivers and ordinary people moving in their vehicles in the huge traffic every day,” he said of his first observation. He posted a question on his subject: Is this “Adherence to the Rule of Law” by all?”

On the first observation, the Swiss said, “Children are monitoring and adapting what they see how adults and especially rich and privileged people behave in traffic.”

On his second observation, he pointed to commercial vehicles and motorcycle operator for “Reckless and dangerous driving on a daily basis on Monrovia congested streets. Endangering Pedestrians, Children, Women, elder and handicapped people trying to cross the streets. Children are monitoring and adapting what they see how adults behave in traffic,” and asked: “Is this “Adherence to the Rule of Law” by all?”

The Liberia National Police is everywhere on the street, but the entire force is “challenged in regards to Transportation, Response time, resources to train Officers appropriately,” the Swiss announced, for his third observation, and added:  “LNP cannot do miracles and are dependent on sufficient support to enhance its institutional and operational capacity. As such, a cohesive partnership with the communities will help bridge the gaps and foster trust and confidence in the rule of law.”

His fourth observation was on attitudes of Liberians on the streets after they had left their various places of worship to God. “We all respect our Religions and attend Services. We all pray to the Almighty and listening to what our Pastors and spiritual leaders teaching us: to plan our lives, to stay away from wickedness, feel the love of GOD, and let always be GOD in control. What are we doing after we are back on the street, outside of the house of GOD?” he queried.

At the end of his presentation, Mr. Walz declared: “My four observations are conflicting!”

On solution methods to the problems, revealed through his ‘observations’, Mr. Felix F. Walz made seven recommendations.

They include: Effective community partnership building activities across the country; regular workshops and trainings to discuss mutually what matters to Dwellers, the Youth, Women, Motorcyclists, Business people and what matters from a perspective of the Police; explanation of respective roles by stakeholders in Liberia’s security sector and reciprocal respect for views; exploitation of individuals’  talents (including motorcyclists’) for the problem-solving approaching the Motorcyclists; and establishment of local committees on Project Management and Dialogue Training, instead of embarrassing each other; and mentorship training for LNP’ Community Service Section to demonstrate togetherness for problem solving.

He pledged the support of his not-for-profit organization (Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland) in the Liberian project.

“Finally,” the Swiss announced, “be aware: the more we are together and stay away from violence; the more we are forgiving to each other; the more we are respecting each other; the more we ALL adhere to the rule of law – the more positive attention we get from the world outside Liberia – concerning BTFS: especially attention from potential investors from Switzerland, but also from other European Countries.”

Speaking with this writer, after Community Policing meeting, Mr. Walz said that he had discussed Liberia’s security issues and solutions with former LNP’s Inspector General, Gregory Coleman, and in similar matters with the current Police boss, Patrick T. Sudue.

“I had said to each of them, Liberia cannot alone handle the security challenges in the country. You need security-related expertise from outside, and you should show a concept note of effective policing to countries whose support you need. A good concept note tells the helper that you are serious about what you are asking for.”

Besides supporting Liberia’s security sector, through the Liberia National Police, Mr. Felix F. Walz is providing sources of livelihoods for dozens of Liberians through his not-for-profit organization named BOWIER TRUST FOUNDATION SWITZERLAND, which was registered with the Government of Liberia in 2016.

“I feel, deeply, the economic pains inside of Liberians and on their skins, since I touched onto the soul of this country, and I felt emotionally pushed to find some solutions to these problems as my organization’s way of buttressing the Government of Liberia’s effort in this direction,” he explained to this writer near a house bearing the organization’s name on S.D. Cooper Road, Paynesville, on May 11.

The compound’s private security man, identified as Daniel, smiled into his employer’s face when his car was entering the yard.

“Hi, Daniel! How’re you today?” the skilled Swiss greeted another of his Liberian employees.

“Fine, boss!” Daniel responded and giggled.

Leaving his car, the Swiss tapped Daniel’s right shoulder. “Gate security persons are not slaves to their employers,” Mr. Walz said to this writer.

The Swiss security expert’s Joviality (of nick-names calling and handshakes) with members of the NGO’s ‘construction team’ in the compound of the Immanuel Academy Elementary & Junior High School, located along S.D. Cooper, seemed to prove his ‘feeling’ for the ‘economic pains’ of Liberia.

Workers were met performing different tasks including mixing of mortar.

  “My name is Samuel G. Holt, Jr., Youth Representative of Bowier Trust Foundation in Liberia,” a 25-year-old worker in full building construction suit introduced himself to this writer and raced to a maroon Chevrolet car parked across the road, opposite the School building. “It’s for me,” he added.

Samuel G. Holt, Jr. is one of a 35-member Liberian workforce implementing the Swiss NGO’s Health/Sanitation component of the organization’s three-part humanitarian service in Liberia.

The number of female are eight.

“My name is Wonda Allison, 26 years old, and the Secretary of the Bowier Trust Foundation,” one of the female employees explained to this writer on a fact-finding mission on the field.

“At this School, we are constructing a borehole and hand pump, Water Tower for Poly Tank to sit over, and a channel for feces to a septic tank,” a male Field Supervisor for the Liberian workers explained to me, but refused to reveal his name on personal reason.

A female worker, age 25, also refused to reveal her name on family’s reason. “My parents told me not to do this work, so I won’t give my name to appear in a newspaper,” the lady confided in this writer.

The retired Swiss Police officer said the Rotary Foundation District 2000 in Switzerland, of the Rotary Club International, is the financial backbone of his NGO to carry out humanitarian works.

A brief biography shows that Felix F. Walz was born in 1953, joined the Swiss Police in 1973 when he was at age 20 and served in his country’s Police service for 40 years.     

He began as a Traffic Police officer, moved to Crime policing, became a specialized police scuba driver at a SWAT Instructor training in Rhode Island, USA.

In 2007, he left the Police to be the Head of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, but stayed only three years there. Later, in 2007, he was appointed head of the Security Branch of the Zurich State Police (Kantonpolizei), and in 2011 promoted to the rank of Captain in the Swiss Police Force, becoming Chief of Staff of a nearly 1,500-officer Airport Police team.

In 2013, he joined the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as Police Peacekeeper, and appointed in various UNPOL positions and ended his UNMIL Tour of Duty as Head of Operations in Leeward in July 2015.

The Liberia National Police, through Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appealed to the Government of Switzerland to have the former UNMIL security official reassigned as Senior Police Advisor “based on his commitment to Police Activities in Liberia,” part of the biography reads. He is also working with the Community Watch Forum of Liberia (CWFL), Liberia Federation of Youth (FLY) and MARYONETT—all partners of the LNP.

The security expert re-registered his NGO (Bowier Trust Foundation Switzerland) in Liberia as his humanitarian platform to buttress the Government of Liberia’s efforts of providing quality education, effective security, and better health/sanitation services to Liberians.

Mr. Felix F. Walz is one of many foreigners on Foreign Service in Liberia who stayed back in Liberia—after the expiration of their service—to contribute to the development of this oldest but under-developed African nation. Many members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWA) peacekeeping group (ECOMOG) had shown their love for a country they had put their lives on the life for during Liberia’s 14-year-old civil war that started in 1990.

Report by Samuel G. Dweh, a freelance journalist, [email protected]

 

 

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