Liverpool Daily Post
10 May, 2011
A LEADING charity has warned that Afghan security forces are not ready to take over security responsibilities from Nato troops, claiming the professionalism and accountability of the nation’s police and Army raise “serious concerns”.
In the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden, some Nato forces have said they will consider an early withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan, but Oxfam, along with other human rights charities, warned that “violations” by Afghan forces could escalate as they take on a frontline role.
The charities have called for the training of the forces to be “urgently stepped up” by coalition troops.
By 2014, the Afghan security forces will take full responsibility for the protection of the country’s citizens but a new report, titled No Time To Lose, alleges the forces have been involved with abuses of civilians such as torture, killings and sexual abuse of children.
The report says: “As international forces prepare for a phased withdrawal of troops, in the lead-up to transition, time to develop the professionalism and accountability of the national security forces is running out.
“It’s not too late; but an adequate response will not be possible without genuine political will at the highest levels of civilian and military leadership, both Afghan and international.”
At least 10% of the 2,777 Afghan civilians who died as a result of the conflict in 2010 were killed by their own security forces, the report claims.
It says that coalition forces are not doing enough to prevent the abuses and they have been too slow to address the issues. The authors have also called for better “checks and balances” to be put in place to ensure the accountability of the police and Army.
“As greater responsibility is handed over to the national security forces, there is a serious risk that unless adequate accountability mechanisms are put into place, violations of human rights and humanitarian law may escalate – and Afghan civilians will pay the price,” the report says.
“The Afghan people have high hopes for their security forces,” said Oxfam report author Rebecca Barber.
“They need to know these forces will protect them and be brought to justice if they commit abuses – or public trust and confidence in the government could be seriously undermined.
“Billions have been spent in Afghanistan and thousands of lives have been lost.
“The sacrifices on all sides should not be in vain. A trained Army and police forces that are accountable to their own people is key to the legacy the international community will leave behind and crucial for establishing lasting security in Afghanistan. There is no time to lose.”
The in-depth report has estimated that there are 40,000 police in the country who have had no training at all and claims that Nato has prioritised “quantity over quality”.
The authors of the report recommend that the training of police should be more extensive and conducted over a longer period of time after they noted that the training of new police officers has shrunk from eight to six weeks, and is focused on firearms training, rather than civilian policing and law.
The report also expressed concerns about a scheme set up to support local militia groups to fight insurgency. It reports allegations that members of the Afghan Local Police initiative have been involved in kidnapping, beatings and other criminal acts.
Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict spokeswoman, Sarah Holewinski, said: “Afghan forces must not only prevent abuse and ensure accountability and remedies for victims of violations, but also ensure that civilians are not put in harm’s way as they conduct their operations. Where civilians are inadvertently harmed, Afghan forces must recognise those losses and make amends.”