CHAPTER 2: The Operating Environment|
The security and development context
14. The subject of this report is the EU's police
mission. However, it is not the EU's sole contribution to restoring
Afghanistan; see Box 1 below. In this chapter we consider the
challenging environment in which the mission operates.
15. Our witnesses commented that the building
of the police and justice sector formed part of the overall security
and development efforts in Afghanistan. Problems in the latter
necessarily affected the former. As Kees Klompenhouwer (EU Civilian
Operation Commander) remarked: "the absence of a peace settlement
is already a complicating factor in implementing our mandate".
Fatima Ayub (Open Society Foundation) argued that there were competing
and incoherent visions of development in Afghanistan. Donors were
spending aid bilaterally on projects and through channels of their
choice, rather than the Afghan government taking the lead. Furthermore,
all this was "unfolding in a battlefield".
EU Support for Afghanistan
Training and mentoring
the Afghan National Police (ANP)
16. Since 2001, there have been a number
of international missions aimed at supporting policing in Afghanistan.
They include EUPOL, NATO, the UN, the US, national bilateral missions
and private contractors. Over time, the NATO Training Mission
(NTM-A) and the EU Police Mission have developed, and a number
of bilateral missions have been subsumed into these multilateral
missions. Remaining bilateral missions are also strongly encouraged
to coordinate their work with the multilateral missions, primarily
the NTM-A and EUPOL, as well as with the Afghan Ministry of the
Interior, which is responsible for the police. As a result, the
lines between bilateral and multilateral contributions are not
always easily distinguishable. For example, the UK leads on the
Helmand Police Training Centre, but it also involves Denmark and
the US, and the Centre will be transferred to NTM-A command in
17. Bilateral police missions by EU Member States
are run by Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Denmark. The German
Police Project Team (GPPT), with over 200 staff, makes a significant
contribution, delivering police training at all levels. The GPPT
works in close coordination with EUPOL and NTM-A in Kabul and
northern Afghanistan, with training sites in Mazar-e-Sharif,
Kunduz and Feyazabad. It also delivers training for officers and
senior NCOs at the Afghan National Police Academy in Kabul.
International Police Training Missions
in Afghanistan, including the NATO Mission (NTM-A)
The Afghan National Police
18. There are four main elements to the 96,000-strong
Afghan National Police. A degree of flexibility exists in their
remits and the way in which they are deployed:
· The Afghan National Civil Order Police
(ANCOP) and the Afghan Border Police, who are undergoing training
as paramilitary police, for counter-insurgency operations. EUPOL
is not involved directly in training these forces as it is not
its area of expertise.
· The Afghan Uniformed Civilian Police and
the Afghan Anti-Crime Police who undertake criminal investigations.
EUPOL has taken the lead on training and mentoring these two elements.
· In addition, a local auxiliary force with
a guard role, constitutes a fifth element (see paragraphs 38-42
19. We asked our witnesses whether there had
been a tradition of policing in Afghanistan. Fatima Ayub commented
that between World War 2 and the Soviet invasion in 1979 there
had been a civil order police in the gendarmerie tradition.
Karen Pierce (UK Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan,
FCO) told us that in the past the police had been used more as
an instrument of the local warlord than as a manifestation of
the authority of the state. For that reason, there was still "a
fair bit of corruption in certain provinces" and the people
did not trust the police.
Dr Kempin told us that the GPPO had repaired civilian structures
that had been "almost completely wiped out under the mujahedin
and the Taliban." Traditional ranks in the ANP had been slimmed
down to create a homogenous leadership structure and leading posts
had been filled according to professional criteria. Arrangements
had been made to ensure that police were paid regularly and a
police academy set up in Kabul for mid- and high-ranking officers.
20. The Minister recognised that "we are
working from a very low base in a variety of different institutions
across Afghanistan", but he highlighted the "extraordinary
commitment that people are making in order to produce the change,
which is absolutely vital". The United Kingdom's objective
was not based on military conquest but on making the country secure.
Progress was being made and the UK was working to strengthen police
vetting procedures. The new Afghan Minister of the Interior had
made a positive start towards achieving six key objectives seeking
to tackle the most pressing issues affecting police reform: training;
leadership; fighting corruption; reforming structure; equipment
and living conditions; and punishment and reward. Efforts were
being made to tackle the issues, both at ministry level and through
the EU's work.
21. Chief Superintendent Nigel Thomas (former
member of the EUPOL mission and interim Head of Mission from May
to July 2010) told us that many people within the police wanted
to serve the community. However, the police suffered from numerous
and serious problems including a high attrition rate, illiteracy
and corruption. They lacked the capability to conduct the most
basic community policing tasks, including forensic science and
investigation techniques using intelligence and information. Moreover,
the police were resented by the public. The police did not interface
with the public and generally did not conduct patrols. They were
trained to maintain security, including manning checkpoints and
installations and acting as a static guard force, rather than
a police force accessible to the public who would investigate
crimes and undertake basic and fundamental policing. There was
a "complete lack of investigation of crimes".
22. Dr Kempin described the parlous state of
the police when EUPOL was formed: country police stations in a
desolate state with widespread shortages of modern firearms, munitions,
vehicles, fuel and communication systems; police so poorly paid
that they had been unable to feed their families, making many
prone to corruption or entanglement in criminal activities, such
as charging arbitrary "taxes" at checkpoints. Accusations
of torture and other human rights violations had undermined the
integrity of the force, as had arrangements allowing suspects
to buy their way out of custody. Lack of central attention to
police experience or training, leading to lawlessness and trade
in police posts, and Interior Ministry officials involved in the
drugs trade misusing their power contributed further to the problems.
Kees Klompenhouwer told us "the situation of the Afghan police
23. We found that a further problem was the lack
of an experienced middle-ranking level of leadership in the Afghan
police. The Minister acknowledged that experience could not be
invented. It was not possible suddenly to have "officers
who are native to Afghanistan with 20 years' civilian background
experience." Finding the leaders for the future was as important
as ensuring that basic front-line officers had the skills they
needed to do the job. Mentoring played an important role in finding
potential leaders. Karen Pierce added that the training programmes
allowed for the police equivalent of an army non-commissioned
officer, as well as that of army officers. However, it was very
difficult to get qualified personnel to fill these positions.
ILLITERACY, DRUG-TAKING AND HUMAN
24. Literacy is a prime requirement for civilian
policing in order to take down evidence, keep proper records,
read a map or a number plate or the serial number of a gun. Fatima
Ayub underlined the challenges posed when trying to ensure police
could interview witnesses and document what they found.
Nigel Thomas told us that the illiteracy rate in the police of
around 70% was a major obstacle to developing a community policing
system in Afghanistan. The military were taking all the best and
literate officers into ANCOP and the border police, leaving all
the illiterate officers for the uniform police and the Criminal
Investigation Department. There was no effective education strategy
for the ANP that he was aware of.
It was essential that the development of a civilian police force
should be supported by other non-governmental organisation activity
to improve literacy skills. Drug-taking was also a problem; but
it fluctuated throughout the country, and an American survey had
suggested that the level was not as high as anticipated.
25. The lack of literacy in the Afghan police
is a fundamental problem hindering its development. The EU, the
Afghan government and international players should make a major
investment in the literacy of police officers and new recruits.
This will enable them better to pursue community policing, including
criminal investigations, and is the most tractable of the issues
surveyed here. So far there has been insufficient focus on literacy
in the Afghan police and we call on the Government and the EU
to increase funding and other support for this crucial area.
26. We asked witnesses specifically about the
attitude to and use of torture. Nigel Thomas told us that it had
been part of the culture of Afghan society in the recent past,
though he had been surprised at the engagement and interest of
the Afghan police in human rights. He had seen reports of abuses
from around the country but EUPOL was working with the Afghan
police to ensure that any abuses were investigated and dealt with,
which had been part of his role in advising the Minister of the
Interior. EUPOL was developing human rights structures in the
ANP which were acceptable to Afghanistan.
27. We support EUPOL's mandate to mainstream
human rights in its work and urge EUPOL to continue to support
the Afghan Ministry of the Interior's efforts to eliminate torture
from the system and to investigate allegations of abuses.
28. Nigel Thomas told us that the high attrition
rate in the police was a major problem. On paper, the strength
of the ANP was 96,000. The target had been to reach 111,000 by
October 2010 and 134,000 by October 2011. However, reaching these
targets was "very difficult", given that, at one point
an attrition rate of 75% had been reached. The reasons for this
were varied but included the high mortality and injury rate, the
lack of leave, welfare or shift patterns, and cultural factors
such as deployment far from families in a country where family
was particularly important. Tajiks in the north, who had expected
to be policing their own community, tended to depart if they found
themselves posted to Marjah and operating in the Pashtun heartlands.
A policeman could be expected to remain at a checkpoint for a
week, having travelled over a dangerous road to reach it. In Mr
Thomas's opinion shift patterns, leave and welfare support should
be developed to mitigate this problem.
29. Fatima Ayub spoke of the physical dangers
confronting the police. Afghans saw clearly that the police were
the front line against the insurgency and were dying at a much
faster rate than army or coalition forces. This in part accounted
for the attrition rate, as people were reluctant to expose themselves
to such risks.
30. We were told by Nigel Thomas that pay was
now less of a problem than it had been in the past. Rates for
a basic ANCOP patrolman had increased from US$80 a month in 2008
to around $220 a month for ANCOP in more dangerous areas. (The
annual Afghan GDP per capita in 2008 was US$466.)
However, actual pay to police on the ground was often less than
the nominal sum, and funds intended for the three meals a day
in the package were often also skimmed away. Some action had been
taken to reduce corruption: an American system of payment by crediting
bank accounts through mobile phones had been a "massively
positive step forward" enabling the police to gain access
to their money, though there were associated problems since not
everyone had a bank account and there had been instances where
the Chief of Police had taken the SIM cards and collected the
salaries from the bank.
31. The attrition rate is an extremely serious
problem for the Afghan police and poses a major challenge to EUPOL's
effort to deliver sustainable improvements. We salute the courage
of the Afghan police who are often the first target for insurgents.
EUPOL should urge the Afghan Ministry of the Interior to pay
greater attention to the causes of the attrition rate in the police,
including high mortality and injury, the lack of leave, welfare
or shift patterns, and cultural factors such as deployment far
from families and home territory. This should also be built into
EUPOL's own strategy.
CORRUPTION, ORGANISED CRIME, INFILTRATION
32. Corruption is a pervasive problem in the
Afghan National Police, as in other aspects of the current Afghan
society, with money being skimmed off at all levels. Fatima Ayub
said that petty corruption included the payment of bribes to the
police to investigate a crime or issue a permit. She pointed out
that the police were the public face of the government in remote
districts and were consequently important to the reputation of
the government itself.
33. Nigel Thomas commented that "from the
top to the bottom of the organisation, corruption is a problem."
At the top corruption was linked to organised crime; at the lowest
level, money was extorted from the public at checkpoints. The
weakness of the legal system was a further difficulty in combating
and corruption connected to the narcotics trade were inevitable
and it was known that certain police chiefs had been implicated.
34. However, EUPOL was heavily involved in the
development of an emerging anti-corruption strategy. The Inspector-General's
Department within the Ministry of the Interior had been set up
as part of this. It had established covert anti-corruption teams
with support from EUPOL, the US-led coalition (CSTC-A) and the
UK to start investigating and arresting the perpetrators. "It's
a big, long challenge, but you have to start somewhere".
35. We asked our witnesses about infiltration
of the police by the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Fatima Ayub thought
that the prime concern should be the need to ensure quality in
policing, rather than the lesser concern of infiltration by the
Taliban. There was anecdotal evidence of individuals being police
by day and Taliban by night, but this raised again the broader
problem of not being able to ensure the background and professionalism
of recruits. An effort had been made to institute a vetting process
for chiefs of police and police officers at district levels but
it had become highly politicised and had been unsuccessful.
36. Nigel Thomas thought it was inevitable that
there would be sleepers in the force because of the easy access
into an organisation desperate for recruits. He cited three incidents
when western soldiers had been killed by police in an organisation
of almost 100,000.
Rooting out sleepers was a challenge as it was very difficult
to carry out any meaningful vetting process.
37. Corruption continues to permeate the Afghan
National Police at all levels, despite the efforts of the Afghan
Ministry of the Interior and the international community to eradicate
it. We urge the EU to redouble its efforts to combat corruption
in the police, without which the rule of law will be impossible
and the Afghan government's reputation with the people will be
further damaged. Establishing a robust financial management system,
including an effective chain of payments to ensure that police
officers are paid in full and on time, should be a priority, since
a well-paid officer is less likely to take a bribe.
THE LOCAL AUXILIARY POLICE
38. Karen Pierce told us that there had been
a debate within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
about the benefits and risks of setting up a local auxiliary police.
In the end ISAF, the international community and the Afghan government
had decided that the "balance of advantage" lay in setting
up such a force. This was partly to provide jobs for former insurgentslow-level
fighters earning $10 a dayand to provide a community home
for them; and partly because of the lack of capacity of the Afghan
National Police. These forces would come under the authority of
the Ministry of the Interior and were answerable to the district
police chiefs. Ms Pierce sought to assure us that the auxiliary
police were not in a position where they could be suborned by
the local warlords. The plan was to build up the local police
to around 10,000 personnel. It was envisaged that this force might
last for two to five years, depending on the growth rate of the
39. Kees Klompenhouwer was cautious in his assessment
of the auxiliary police force: "it is very much in the hands
of our American friends" and outside the scope of EUPOL's
mandate. Command and control were the obvious issues which would
need to be addressed, and were the responsibility the Minister
of the Interior; arrangements were in place for vetting and coaching
this force. The professional policemen in EUPOL were concerned
that the new recruits should act in accordance with "certain
40. Nigel Thomas described the function of the
auxiliary police as akin to a guard and security function, aimed
initially at relieving the ANP from guard duties. He did not feel
that EUPOL should engage in it and "... as a civilian police
officer, I would want to distance myself from it". There
were both benefits and potential pitfalls in arming a significant
number of people across the country and it would have to be robustly
41. Fatima Ayub expressed strong opposition to
the establishment of the auxiliary police. Thousands of people
were involved and had been threatening voters during parliamentary
elections. "If the EU wants to challenge something more vocally
in that respect, I am sure that it would be welcome. Afghans are
terrified because these militia operate with no accountability
to anyone." The Americans had started the programme but it
was being expanded across the country. Funds came from the PRTs.
"I cannot stress enough that this is a very destructive trend
... competing with the legitimate forces and institutions ..."
42. We are concerned about the creation of the
local auxiliary police in Afghanistan, which aims to fulfil a
guard role. This poses a serious risk that armed groups outside
formal structures could challenge the authority of the state,
collude with local warlords, use their firearms improperly, instil
fear in the population, and engage in corruption or the drug trade.
The inadequacy of management structures and discipline in the
auxiliary police are also worrying. The EU should take up with
the Afghan Ministry of the Interior and the Americans the potential
threat to stability in Afghanistan which will be posed by the
newly created auxiliary police if effective command and control
are not exercised by the Afghan Ministry of the Interior.
WOMEN AND GENDER ISSUES
43. EUPOL's priority number six is to "mainstream
gender and human rights aspects within the Ministry of Interior
and the Afghan National Police", (see paragraph 12). Fatima
Ayub told us that NTM-A and EUPOL were both aware of the need
to train women police, for more reasons than just gender balance.
Where there were gender-specific crimes such as domestic violence
and rape in Afghanistan, women would probably be needed to investigate
them. The NTM-A training programme had recently graduated the
first set of women police lieutenants.
44. Nigel Thomas told us that EUPOL was developing
a training centre for women officers in Bamyan. The build programme
and curriculum development would take 18 months. After this, EUPOL
would have to bring in trainers, train them and work on Afghan
ownership of the project.
45. EUPOL is right to include as a priority
the training of women in its programme to mainstream gender issues
and human rights within the Ministry of the Interior and the Afghan
National Police, and we welcome the establishment of a training
centre for women police officers in Bamyan.
BUILDING POLICE LINKS WITH THE JUDICIARY
46. EUPOL's role includes improving "cooperation
and coordination between the police and the judiciary with particular
emphasis on prosecutors" (5th priority, see paragraph
12). The Minister described the work as: "first, developing
the investigative capacity of the ANP to facilitate better trials;
secondly, mentoring the Minister of the Interior and his legal
adviser and working with and mentoring some Afghan prosecutors;
thirdly, running courses for the Attorney-General's staff; fourthly,
working with the Ministry of the Interior (MoI) and the police
to advance human rights issues." Other projects included
setting up a legal library in Herat and a full reference library
and archive for the MoI in Kabul. Mobile anti-corruption teams
had also been set up.
47. Fatima Ayub criticised the failings in justice
sector reform: "the most neglected area of the international
effort from 2002 onwards". She believed that the same neglect
applied to the EU's attitude to the justice sector.
She commented that the critical failure for EUPOL, and for security
sector reform as a whole, was that they had been unable to look
at the problem holistically: "you can train the best police
in the world but it will not matter if you do not have a judiciary
that can prosecute crimes" or "if they cannot actually
arrest high-level government officials for crimes ... or for corruption".
48. Kees Klompenhouwer told us that a justice
strategy was in place, but while EUPOL was co-operating with part
of the criminal justice system, it had no ownership of it. Training
had been given on standard operating procedures which were to
be applied by police and prosecutors investigating a case.
Nigel Thomas said that corruption was widespread, in particular
because prosecutors were only paid US $50 per month. He also commented
that the judiciary was a problematic area but was improving.
49. Beyond EUPOL's mandate, the EU collectively
and Member States individually have made a significant contribution
to the justice sector and furthering the rule of law in Afghanistan
(see Box 1 above). Karen Pierce told us that in the south the
UK funded what were called "traditional justice programmes"
in an attempt to introduce an element of dispute mediation so
that local communities did not have to rely on the Taliban for
this. Others funded these programmes elsewhere in Helmand. However,
the clarity and speed of Taliban decisions held certain attractions
for Afghans who did not want to wait for government decisions,
which could be fairer, but took time. This was an ongoing problem.
50. The Afghan judiciary has received insufficient
attention from the EU and the international community since 2001.
Determined efforts are needed to build capacity and eliminate
corruption in the judiciary, without which progress on police
reform risks being unproductive. EUPOL should continue to work
with the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that those arrested
can be properly brought to trial. A greater effort must also be
made to tackle corruption in the Ministry of Justice.
13 Q 164 Back
Q 3 Back
Q 15 Back
Q 110 Back
Appendix 3 Back
Q 110 Back
QQ 50-52, 57 Back
Appendix 3 Back
Q 140 Back
Q 113 Back
Q 16 Back
QQ 60, 61 Back
QQ 58, 86 Back
QQ 96-97 Back
QQ 57, 59, 62 Back
Q 40 Back
Source UN data for 2008, http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx Back
QQ 59, 62, 80, 81 Back
QQ 5, 6 Back
Q 52 Back
Q 84 Back
Q 52 Back
QQ 16-20 Back
Since this evidence was given, there have been reports that 6
Americans were shot by Afghan policemen in December 2010, with
further incidents in January 2011. Back
Q 83-84 Back
Q 127 Back
Q 163 Back
QQ 88-90 Back
QQ 38-39 Back
Q 45 Back
Q 74 Back
Q 123 Back
Q 28 Back
Q 27 Back
QQ 139, 160 Back
Q 67 Back
Q 124 Back