New Report Casts Doubt on Local Afghan Police

Just as we’ve uploaded the video/podcast of our recent Intelligence Squared debate on Australia’s war in Afghanistan (see below), the broader public debate on the topic has reignited. A newly-published Human Rights Watch report has raised fresh questions about human rights abuses by Afghan militias and local police. The report documents “serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids by irregular armed groups” in various parts of Afghanistan, including Oruzgan province, where some 1500 Australian troops are charged with training the local police ahead of a withdrawal scheduled for 2014. The report concludes that “The Afghan government has failed to hold these forces to account, fostering future abuses and generating support for the Taliban and other opposition forces.”

In an associated report in The Age, it’s alleged that recruitment rates for local police in Oruzgan province is falling year on year, with only about 80 locals having joined the local police in that province since 2009. Earlier this year, US General David Petraeus told the US Senate that training the local Afghan police force was “arguably the most critical element in our effort to help Afghanistan develop the capability to secure itself.”

The Afghan government’s intelligence agency has encouraged the rise of militias in recent years as part of its security policy, the report alleges, but these militias have been formed without sufficient oversight and operate with impunity.

The Human Rights Watch findings echo the arguments made by Afghan writer, activist and former parliamentarian in the National Assembly of Afghanistan, Malalai Joya, on her recent visit to Australia as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. In an interview in the spring issue (number 204) of Overland, Joya didn’t mince her words when describing the current situation in Afghanistan as she sees it:

Supporting Karzai’s mafia regime is like hammering nails in the coffin of freedom, democracy, women’s rights and human rights because his government is full of misogynist Islamic fundamentalists, warlords, drug-lords and criminals. Karzai is a traitor and criminal to my people. He has collaborated with and placed their sworn enemies in high positions of power. He has completely compromised himself by continuing to keep silent about their inhumane past and present.

See more of Malalai Joya here.

(Click to watch video.)

(Click to watch video.)

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