Eurasiareview: Afghan Local Police: A Threat To Civilian Security?

By Janosch Jerman

In fall 2010, the Afghan government created the Afghan Local Police (ALP) as a ‘self-defence force’ to protect villages against insurgent attacks. In spite of its name, local policing was never under its purview. Envisaged right from the beginning as a paramilitary force, its main purpose is to serve Afghanistan’s reintegration programme, which ‘buys’ former insurgents and militias who then work for the Afghan government. ALP recruits receive three weeks of training before being sent on duty. Their recruitment, intended to be decided by the consensus of the local shura (representing various clans in a region), seems instead to be decided by the dominant clan in the region without consultation or consensus. As a consequence, the ALP ends up becoming an extension of the dominant clan’s grip on power. Therefore, the choice is between stability by strengthening the dominant clan or an inclusive system which fundamentally erodes the dominance of that clan.

This debate, it seems, has been settled decisively in favour of the former. Various reports by NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Refugees International, have accused the ALP of grave human rights violations and have stated that it presents a threat to civilian security, rather than an improvement. In spite of this, security planners have been reluctant to reform or change the course of the ALP, lending credence to the prioritization of stability over inclusiveness.

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