Members of the senatorial Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, yesterday kicked off a month-long assessment of the performance of District Administration Security Support Organ (DASSO), nearly five years after the force was established.
The senators met officials at the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) on Thursday to collect baseline information about citizens’ perception of the force as documented under RGB’s Citizen Report Card.
Nearly five years since the body was established, the senators said that it was high time for the body’s performance to be assessed.
Senator Mike Rugema who heads the senatorial committee said the lawmakers are interested in checking how DASSO has helped address the problems that were there before it was created.
“We feel this is an opportune time to assess DASSO’s performance so far and identify whether there are any issues that can be addressed,” he said.
A law establishing DASSO and determining its responsibilities, organisation, and functioning was enacted in 2013, paving the way for the force to replace the former Local Defence Force, which wasn’t perceived by the population as professional.
Under Article 3 of the law establishing the force, responsibilities of DASSO include supporting district authorities to enforce their decisions and instructions that were taken in connection with security, collaborating with other organs to ensure public order in the district, and arresting any person caught red-handed in the act of disruption of public order and take them to the nearest police station.
The force is also responsible for informing the nearest administrative organs of anything which in its opinion represents a threat to safety, assisting other security organs if necessary, and collaborating with other organs in the prevention and control of disasters in the district.
RGB’s chief executive officer, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, told the lawmakers that security bodies in Rwanda are generally appreciated by the population but he indicated that DASSO still remains the least rated by the people of all the public security forces in the country.
“We have recommended that other security institutions should train DASSO so that the force can be stronger and more professional,” Shyaka said.
He also suggested that it can make a difference if DASSO can approach the population more and sensitise them about security and the body’s role in security management.
Senator Jeanne d'Arc Mukakalisa, Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security, agreed with Prof. Shyaka that DASSO should do more to explain to the people what it does.
“People don’t know them and the body should conduct outreach activities to increase its visibility within communities so that people can be aware of its services,” she said.
According to the RGB’s Citizen Report Card for 2017, Rwanda Defence Force is the most appreciated security institution, Rwanda National Police is the second most appreciated body, while DASSO is appreciated at a lower level, especially in towns.
The Citizen Report Card for 2017 indicated that 99.1 per cent of respondents had trust in the Rwanda Defence Force, 98.1 per cent of respondents had trust in the Rwanda National Police, while 84.7 per cent of respondents said they had trust in DASSO.
The senators will spend a month touring all the country’s 30 districts to assess the body’s performance and they will also interact with officials at different institutions such as the Ministry of Local Government which is responsible for supervising DASSO as well as the Rwanda National Police that is responsible for the force’s training.