Afghanistan moves to build police capacity, combat corruption

By Ziar

Afghan police march during their graduation ceremony on the outskirts of Jalalabad February 11, 2015. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

Afghan police march during their graduation ceremony on the outskirts of Jalalabad February 11, 2015. [Noorullah Shirzada/AFP]

KABUL -- Afghanistan is continuing its police reforms with the establishment of the Afghan Police Strategic Board, which has been tasked with increasing police capacity, implementing rule of law and combating administrative corruption.

The Ministry of Interior prepared a new police reform strategy in January 2017 and in November established the Strategic Board to implement the new policy.

"The strategy consists of several major components: increasing the capacity of police, raising the salaries of police personnel, creating new solutions to eliminate corruption among the police ranks and optimising utilisation of facilities," ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Salaam Times this month.

"The Afghan Police Strategic Board includes a competent delegation from the Interior Ministry that will travel to every small and large department ... across Afghanistan and will report on the details of the implementation of the police development strategy to senior Afghan government officials," he said.

The board was scheduled to begin to work in January 2018, according to Rahimi, "but because of some technical problems it was delayed, and hopefully the board will start working some time in February".

Improving transparency, accountability

The international community needs to see professional and effective work, as well as transparency in financial accounts, in return for the assistance it provides to the Afghan police, Minister of Interior Wais Ahmad Barmak said during a discussion with other Interior Ministry officials in Kabul December 11.

In addition to regulating the promotions and salaries of police, the initiative covers monetary aid provided for police forces.

"From now on, we can spend the financial resources provided by the international community ... for our police forces with ultimate honesty, transparency and accountability," he said.

The formation of the board will reduce crime and improve police relations with the public, said Gen. (ret.) Atiqullah Amarkhil, a military analyst in Kabul who served in the Afghan National Army.

"The police and army form the foundation of every country's security," he told Salaam Times. "Hence, the more corrective actions taken in these institutions, the more security and less crime that country will have."

"When the police force becomes more professional, the way in which it treats the public will improve and it can better implement the law," he said.

Afghan police are already implementing strategies to raise their professionalism, according to Rahimi.

"Through implementing the four-year Afghan Forces Development Plan, the ... Afghan police are working hard to increase their capacity and provide more professional service to the community, in order to fully implement the rule of law," he said.

Combating administrative corruption

The effectiveness of the Afghan Police Strategic Board is dependent upon a comprehensive implementation of its plans, said Gen. (ret.) Nazifa Zaki, a member of the Wolesi Jirga (lower chamber of parliament) representing Kabul.

"As an elected representative, I am optimistic about the formation of this Strategic Board," she told Salaam Times. "The ... board is qualified and can identify the corrupt generals and can bring them to justice."

"Upon elimination of corruption within the police force, criminal cases will be better investigated and the perpetrators will be apprehended in a shorter time," she said. "This measure will be a huge help in providing security."

"Corruption is among the shortcomings the international community and the Afghan people want to see eliminated from security institutions," Sayed Ikram Afzali, executive director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan in Kabul, told Salaam Times.

"My suggestion is that the Afghan Police Strategic Board must first identify and punish corrupt individuals," he said. "If this process continues, the Interior Ministry will definitely become free from corruption, which in turn can ensure Afghanistan's security."

Strategic Board members report corruption cases directly to Interior Ministry officials and can suspend corrupt officials, Rahimi said.

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