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Amnesty International Criticizes Afghan Police - 2003-03-12

The human rights group Amnesty International says Afghanistan urgently needs to reform what is described as an abusive police force. In a report issued Wednesday, the organization alleges that the Afghan police are not only unable to uphold human rights but are also guilty of violating them.

London-based Amnesty International issued a report Wednesday saying 23 years of war in Afghanistan has meant terrible consequences for the country's law enforcement and the police department needs to be completely revamped.

Amnesty's research coordinator for Afghanistan, Margaret Ladner, says the police force is ill-equipped, not held accountable and guilty of widespread abuses. "The police force overall has not been given sufficient training nor have they been given sufficient resources or equipment to be able to properly do their job to protect and ensure human rights," she said. "But at the same time the police are also responsible for violations of human rights. And our researchers documented cases of torture, unlawful and arbitrary detentions and extortion by the police."

The international community is currently helping the Afghan government rebuild a police force of about 50,000 officers.

But Ms. Ladner says donor countries need to do more to ensure salaries can be paid and vital equipment and training are provided. "The police particularly outside of Kabul, that are currently serving, the vast majority of them have not received any professional training," said Ms. Ladner. "Many of them are former Mujahedeen or former fighters so they have a military background, but do not have any skills or training in civilian policing. There is a great need for the international community to provide the resources so that these men and a small number of women who are currently serving as police across the country are given the proper training they need to do their job."

Amnesty International says there is widespread lack of public faith in the police and unless the problems highlighted in its report are addressed promptly, this will deepen.