The EU’s Police Mission in Afghanistan risks failing in an area where the EU should be showing leadership, the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development says in a report published today (Wednesday 16 February).
The Committee found that the Afghan National Police force is in a dire state due to high attrition and illiteracy rates, and corruption. The mission must pay greater attention to the most basic of policing skills, not least reading and writing, if it is to succeed.
The Committee’s report points out that that the EU is undertaking a vital task in Afghanistan, but it must address the reasons why the mission is failing before it is too late, which include:
- Too few staff – the small target of 400 people has never been met, demonstrating lack of EU commitment and meaning that the mission cannot cover many important parts of the country.
- The EU and NATO are not working together properly.
- Insufficient attention has been paid to the Afghan judiciary. There are problems of capacity and corruption levels, which risk making police reform unproductive and seriously limiting prosecution levels.
The Committee is also concerned that the timetable for building up Afghanistan’s ability to police itself does not coincide with the departure of foreign combat troops.
Commenting on the report, Lord Teverson, Chairman of the Sub-Committee, said:
‘We have huge concerns about this mission. It is failing in its stated purpose of building up a civilian policing capability. What the Afghan people need is a police force that can relate to their lives, that can investigate crimes and bring cases to court.
‘There is no formal agreement between the EU and NATO in Afghanistan which we find utterly unacceptable. The Government must put renewed political effort into making this happen, as the only people who benefit from the lack of such an agreement are the Taliban.’
The European Union Committee of the House of Lords considers EU documents and other EU-related matters in advance of decisions being taken on them. Sub-Committee C scrutinises EU documents and policy on Common Security & Defence Policy, including EU military and civilian operations outside the EU.
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