UN in Afghanistan works to build capacity of women police and access to justice for women, children

10 Feb 2013

UN in Afghanistan works to build capacity of women police and access to justice for women, children

KABUL - The United Nations in Afghanistan has joined forces with national and international partners to expand and complement existing programmes to strengthen the capacity of women police, and improve access to justice for women and children in local communities of 10 Afghan provinces.

The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is implementing the Afghan Democratic Policing Project (ADPP) with US$ 4.5 million funding support provided by the Government of the Netherlands.

UNAMA’s Police Advisory Unit plays a coordinating role by bringing all stakeholders together. According to A. Heather Coyne, a police adviser with UNAMA, the UN mission advises on the project design and implementation, while UNOPS extends administrative and logistical support.

The three-year project seeks to expand and complement the existing programmes of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union Police Mission (EUPOL) in the areas of community-police engagement and strengthening the capacity of women police.

The project, which officially started on 3 February, has two-pronged activities: support Afghanistan’s Police-e-Mardumi (community police) teams to conduct police-community consultations and school outreach programmes with a gender focus; and strengthen the capacity of women police to provide services to women victims in collaboration with the UNDP’s Women Police Mentoring Programme.

Ms. Coyne of UNAMA said the project aimed to achieve the goal of improving accountability and responsiveness of police to their communities, particularly by strengthening women police, which in turn is expected to enhance access to justice for women and children in the local communities.

Col. Sayed Omar Saboor of the Afghan National Police (ANP), who until recently headed the ANP’s community police unit, said the people trust the community police personnel and share their problems because "they work closely with the people".

“If this project (ADPP) covers all (34) provinces, then it will be very useful in dealing with all kinds of violent cases,” said Col. Saboor, who is now the deputy director of the Gender, Human Rights and Child Rights section at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) of Afghanistan.

People’s trust, said Col. Saboor, helps the Police-e-Mardumi implement the law. “Once the law is implemented, the problem is solved thereby facilitating the access of women and children to justice.”

There are just over 1,500 women police personnel in the 149,000-strong ANP force. However, traditionally most of the women police personnel have been doing jobs other than direct policing – for example: sewing police uniforms.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his report to the Security Council in December 2012 that UNAMA continued to facilitate the coordination of international resources to assist Afghan authorities in strengthening the recruitment and capacity of female police officers and to raise awareness among male officers about the importance of integrating women into the police force as equal members.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) decided in 2010 to increase the number of women police force to 5,000 by 2015. “However, they are far behind the schedule,” said Ms. Coyne.

The primary focus of the ADPP will be in seven Afghan provinces where EUPOL and MoI have launched community policing pilots: Balkh, Kunduz, Bamyan, Baghlan, Ghor, Helmand and Uruzgan. Additionally, it is expected that some activities will reach into other key urban areas where women police are concentrated, such as Kabul, Nangarhar and Herat.

In October last year, while addressing a meeting of senior police officers, the Minister of Interior, Gen. Mujtaba Patang, said community-based policing was one of 10 priorities of the ANP. In the same month, the MoI – together with UNDP and other partners – launched a police women mentoring programme, aimed at building the capacity of female police officers, addressing violence against women and raising awareness among male officers of the importance of integrating women into the police force as equal members.

By UNAMA Kabul

(This article was updated with quotes of Col. Sayed Omar Saboor on 17 February 2013)

Related links:

1. Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 6 December 2012

2. Global Open Day on Women: UN doing ‘everything possible’ to protect rights of Afghan women

3. UN special envoy pledges continued support to women victims of violence and crimes