Afghanistan police committing serious abuses: HRW

[JURIST] The Afghan Local Police (ALP) force is committing serious abuses [press release], and the Afghan government is doing little to hold the officials accountable, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] announced Monday. In a report [text, PDF] entitled "Just Don't Call It a Militia: Impunity, Militias, and the Afghan Local Police," HRW alleges that the national army and police have been committing serious human rights violations such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land seizures and illegal raids. These abuses have taken place across the country but are on the rise in places that have been secure historically, like the northeastern Kunduz province. Creation of local militias has increased in recent years in an effort to combat insurgency and address the country's deteriorating security. These local militias, according to HRW, lack proper oversight and are often "hijacked" by local leaders who purport to use the militias for personal gain. Despite improvements and efforts to increase supervision of the army and police forces, HRW says the state-run institutions have proven ineffective. HRW recommended that the Afghan government "sever all ties with irregular armed groups and abusive commanders, and take immediate steps to create well-trained, properly vetted security forces that operate within the rule of law and are held accountable for their actions." HRW also called on the US and international community to assist the Afghan government in creating guidelines and establishing enforcement mechanisms to eliminate the abuses.

Afghanistan has received much criticism for its human rights record. Corruption, abuse of power and a focus on short-term security goals in Afghanistan have intensified the issue of poverty [JURIST report], affecting more than two-thirds of the population, according to a March 2010 report [text, DOC] from the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. Earlier that same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] delivered a report [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] that said Afghanistan's human rights progress has been thwarted by armed conflict, censorship, abuse of power and violence against women. In February 2009, the US State Department (DOS) [official website] released its annual 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [DOS materials], criticizing Afghanistan [JURIST report] for its continued use of child labor. In November 2008, Pillay urged [press release] Afghan President Hamid Karzai to put a stop to executions [JURIST report] and join nations calling for a death penalty moratorium after five prisoners were executed over the course of four days.

 

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