Venezuelan Government Forms Multi-Institutional Council Against Crime

The Minister for Justice and Internal Affairs, Tarek El Aissami, established a new National Council of Prevention and Citizen Security yesterday.
Tarek El Aissami, far right, at the formal founding of the security council (ABN/Henry Tesara).

Mérida, June 3rd 2009 ( — The Minister for Justice and Internal Affairs, Tarek El Aissami, established a new National Council of Prevention and Citizen Security yesterday.

The aim of the council is to formulate national public policy for citizen security and against violence for the medium and long term.  El Aissami defined the council as, “an inter-institutional space, plural, technical and participatory… with an integral approach to the phenomenon of violence. Based on this we will implement all the policies, programs and mechanisms to address this problem.”

El Aissami, along with the ministers for education, higher education, health, social protection, women and gender equality, sport, culture, communication and information, and science and technology are participating in the council together with private and public institutions, the Supreme Court, the National Assembly, the Public Prosecutor, and University Professors specialising in areas related to crime.

El Aissami called on communal councils to carry out “participatory diagnostics” around the issue of security, for the social missions to focus on the most vulnerable sectors of the population and for plans for education about security. The council will compile the information from the communal councils and from July will start an inquiry into victimisation and perception of citizen security. Institutions, he said, should designate a high level functionary to be their link with the council.

“Citizen security shouldn’t just be for the National Executive, it’s a collective effort because it’s about a multi-causal problem, with many factors… It is important that the people incorporate themselves into the debate. Citizen security transcends issues of policing, it has to do with values and social control,” El Aissami said.

In his talk to the press, he also highlighted the importance of community based prevention, where, he said, the community has a specific role because their experience of situational factors is of use.

“Despite all our efforts, [crime] continues to be a problem that worries everyone,” said Vice Minister Ramon Carrizalez at the establishment of the council.

“And for the first time we have a group of Venezuelans who, in an articulate and integrated way are going to confront this problem of citizen security and of crime in all its aspects,” Carrizalez said, stressing that the point of the council isn’t “to theorise, but rather to produce solutions and apply them.”

The council was legally decreed on 17 March. Its formation follows the creation of the National Commission for Police Reform in 2006 which analysed citizen and police concerns and demands, then the creation of the Commission for the Police System in November last year whose purpose is to implement those demands and to coordinate the transformation of the police system along the lines of the new police law passed on 9 April last year.