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OSCE Launches Police Assistance Program in Kyrgyzstan - 2003-08-09

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has signed an agreement with Kyrgyzstan launching its first police assistance program in central Asia.

The OSCE police project was the idea of the Kyrgyzstan government. The aim is to develop the national police force into a model agency for the rest of central Asia.

According to OSCE officials, the program calls for improving the quality of police investigations and introducing community policing together with non-governmental organizations.

The senior police adviser for the OSCE, Richard Monk, visited Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, for the signing ceremony. He says it is important to develop a new police culture in former communist states, where security forces were under the direct control of the Ministry of Interior. Mr. Monk says police in central Asian countries today face common problems.

"They will all talk about organized crime, drugs, and they talk about political, religious extremism, terrorism," he said. "The tendency nowadays is to believe that terrorism enjoys a vocabulary, which is different, distinct from policing, and that terrorism somehow exists external to policing. That's just not true."

Mr. Monk says an unspoken police problem in central Asia is corruption, not surprising considering the poor wages and long hours involved in the job. The OSCE says a Kyrgyz policeman will work 14 hours a day, use his own car for patrols, buy his own cell phone and type out reports on his own computer. His monthly take home pay will not be much more than $30.

The OSCE has sent experts to Kyrgyzstan from France, Germany, Britain, the United States and Turkey to discuss how to create more transparency and develop good policing.

The organization says it hopes to extend the police assistance program to other countries in central Asia and the Caucasus region.