Kabul: The Afghan police force funded and supported by the United States is getting away with serious abuses including rape and murder, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report published on Tuesday.
The findings ignite fresh questions about the Western exit strategy from Afghanistan and about handing full control of security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014, when all foreign combat troops are due to have left.
The 7,000-strong Afghan Local Police (ALP), set up last year and touted as central to the security handover, arms residents protecting their communities in areas where the Afghan army and regular police have only limited reach.
They do not have law enforcement powers. HRW found evidence of ALP abuses including killings, rapes and arbitrary detentions in three provinces -- Baghlan, Herat and Uruzgan -- out of seven where it conducted interviews.
It said such cases raised "serious concerns" about ALP vetting, recruitment and oversight and urged improvements including the establishment of a complaints body to deal with problems.
"Pressure to reduce international troop levels should not be at the expense of the rights of Afghans," said HRW`s Asia director Brad Adams.
"Poor governance, corruption, human rights abuses and impunity for government-affiliated forces all are drivers of the insurgency and these issues need to be addressed if true stability is to come to Afghanistan."