Brutality by Afghan Local Police Is Reported
By JACK HEALY
The accusations of violence, theft and impunity raise new questions about whether the local police and government-supported militias in
The rights group’s report said the Afghan government’s failure to punish abusive local police officers or the militias known as arbakai was causing harm in several ways: seeding the ground for further abuses, building local support for the Taliban and eroding people’s faith in the government to crack down on corruption, lawlessness and powerful local warlords.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force offered a measured response to the assessment, saying in a Twitter posting that the report offered suggestions for refining and improving parts of the year-old program to build up the local security forces. But it said that other aspects of the report were “dated/incorrect.”
“This report will be carefully evaluated, to take the necessary steps,” said Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a NATO spokesman in
With most of the Western forces in
The paramilitary local police forces number about 7,500 officers in 46 districts, and officials hope to expand them to 30,000 officers. They are trained for three weeks by American Special Forces units and then armed with automatic rifles; they are paid about 60 percent of the salaries that national police officers get.
Although the local forces are credited with improving security in some corners of the country, aid workers, Afghan civilians and local officials have complained that some of the police units do the bidding of local warlords and are not held accountable for their abuses of power.
According to the report issued on Monday, Afghan leaders from some communities said that they had been pressed by the government to accept the local police in their villages, and that the American Special Forces had enrolled militia members as local police officers over the objections of elders.
A spokesman for the Special Forces command in Afghanistan declined to discuss the report in detail, but said candidates for the local police were nominated by local gatherings of elders and “must be thoroughly vetted to ensure only quality individuals are selected.”
The report also described tangled lines of responsibility for the local forces. It told of a man in western
Opponents of the program, like Hajji Janan, a member of the provincial council in Wardak, just west of the capital, said that the local police were militias by another name, and that they had killed five civilians in the past six weeks and regularly extorted money from residents.
Tensions have flared between the local police and their national counterparts, sometimes fatally. In late August, a local police commander in
Ray Rivera and Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul, and Enayat Najafizada from
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs