Monday, 12 September 2011

New Afghan local police units failing - HRW

Members of the newly formed Afghan Local Police
Human Rights Watch has produced a report on the growth of armed groups in Afghanistan, following the creation of the Afghan Local Police last summer. Just don't call it a Militia: Impunity, Militias, and the “Afghan Local Police" notes that "militias of all varieties have participated in murderous tribal vendettas, targeted killings, smuggling and extortion. Rapes of women, girls, and boys have been frequent." Elements of the new ALP seem to be going the same way.
The ALP was created, funded and armed by the US to supplement national security forces, particularly in remote parts of the country. Predictably, it has not quite gone that way. Such local groups quickly become attached to local warlords and power brokers and some are soon drawn into criminality or settling old scores. Nor is this the first attempt to create such a force. Already since 2001 we have had the Afghan National Auxiliary Police, Afghan Social Outreach Program forces, Community Defense Forces, Community Defense Initiative/Local Defense Initiative forcees and the Interim Security for Critical Infrastructure units.
All are based on the doctrine set out in the US Army manual on Tactics in Counter Insurgency, published in 2009. While those promoting the new ALP units argue that they have begun to deliver improvements to local security, HRW says that in the provinces it investigated there are serious problems. It recommends that irregular armed groups should be disbanded and that allegations of abuse should be investigated. An external complaints body should be created to monitor the ALP and recruits should be more closely vetted. 
All worthy stuff, but will these kind of measures be any more successful than the militias themselves? I doubt it very much.

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