Jack Healy
New York Times

September 13, 2011

Local police forces trained and financed by the United States have killed and raped civilians, stolen land and carried out other abuses against the Afghan villagers they are charged with protecting, according to a report released on Monday by Human Rights Watch.

The accusations of violence, theft and impunity raise new questions about whether the local police and government-supported militias in Afghanistan, which are meant to play a major role in defending small villages against the Taliban, are instead undermining security at a critical moment for the country and the NATO-led war effort.

The rights group’s report said the Afghan government’s failure to punish abusive local police officers or the militias known as arbakai was causing harm in several ways: seeding the ground for further abuses, building local support for the Taliban and eroding people’s faith in the government to crack down on corruption, lawlessness and powerful local warlords.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force offered a measured response to the assessment, saying in a Twitter posting that the report offered suggestions for refining and improving parts of the year-old program to build up the local security forces. But it said that other aspects of the report were “dated/incorrect.”

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