By Dan Oakes
The standard of Afghanistan's security forces is slowly improving but they still stand accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture, according to a new study.
The study, by Oxfam, found that although there had been slight improvements in training and education in the past few months, there are still serious doubts about whether Afghan police and soldiers will be willing or able to protect Afghans from the Taliban after foreign troops pull out.
Australian soldiers in Oruzgan province are training elements of the Afghan National Army to take over security after most Australian troops are withdrawn in 2014.
There are serious doubts about whether Afghan police and soldiers will be willing or able to protect Afghans against the Taliban after foreign troops withdraw. (Photo: Kate Geraghty)
Oxfam has also urged the Afghan authorities to suspend the Afghan Local Police program, under which villagers deemed to be supporters of the government are given rudimentary training and armed, leading to claims they are merely the private militia of local warlords.
The Oxfam report acknowledges that the standard of training for the Afghan National Police has improved significantly in the past year, but points out local police receive no human rights or community policing training.
''The [security forces], and particularly the police, are regarded by a significant portion of the Afghan public as abusive, corrupt and incompetent - a force to be feared rather than a force to trust,'' the report says.
''An estimated 90 per cent of police cannot read or write, and an estimated 20,000 still have not received even the most basic training.
''But worse than incompetency or corruption, Afghan police continue to be implicated in serious violations of human rights, as well as in incidents in which a readiness to resort to lethal force rather than non-lethal alternatives leads to avoidable civilian casualties.''
The report says Afghan forces have opened fire on demonstrating civilians on several occasions, killing 25 and injuring 159 in the first half of this year.