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Local police guilty of gross abuses: HRW

Local police guilty of gross abuses: HRW

Sep 12, 2011 - 14:25

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The newly-created Afghan Local Police (ALP) force is involved in gross human rights abuses, an international watchdog said on Monday.

With the government failing to provide proper oversight, the US-backed force was accused of killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs and illegal raids.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) asked the Afghan government and the US to cut ties to irregular armed groups and take steps to create properly trained security forces.

In a report released today, the group alleged the force, set up last year, was committing rights violations in Kunduz, Baghlan, Herat and Uruzgan provinces.

Intended to facilitate the security transfer, the 7,000-strong force comprises armed residents protecting their communities in areas where the Afghan army and regular police have a small presence.

"Pressure to reduce international troop levels should not be at the expense of the rights of Afghans," said HRW’s Asia Director Brad Adams. "Patronage links... allow supposedly pro-government militias to terrorise local communities and operate with impunity."

Kabul and Washington needed to make a clean break from supporting abusive and destabilising militias to have any hope of a viable, long-term security strategy, he added.

In March 2011, former ISAFinfo-icon commander Gen. David Petraeus told the US Senate the ALP was arguably the most critical element in the effort to help Afghanistaninfo-icon develop the capability to secure itself.

The rapid build-up of the ALP had fuelled concerns about whether the local police would be a law-abiding force, HRW said, adding an ALP unit raided several houses, stealing belongings, beating residents, and illegally detaining six men in Shindand district of Herat province in February last.

Members of the force, according to the report, beat up teenage boys and hammered nails into the feet of a child. However, no action has so far been taken against them.

"In April, four armed ALP members in Baghlan abducted a 13-year-old boy on his way home from the bazaar and took him to the house of an ALP sub-commander, where he was gang-raped. He escaped the next day. Although the assailants’ identities were well known, no arrests have taken place."

HRW urged the Afghan government to investigate all allegations of abuse by militias and the ALP, to allocate adequate resources to probe complaints and create an externalinfo-icon complaints body to act on reports of abuses.

"Poor governance, corruption, human rights abuses and impunity for government-affiliated forces all are drivers of the insurgency and these issues need to be addressed if true stability is to come to Afghanistan," the document said.



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