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Germany

Germany Strengthens Commitment to Afghan Police

With Germany heading the international drive for a new Afghan police force, Interior Minister Otto Schily pledged more money and equipment for Kabul and vowed German police would stay "as long as they are needed."

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Afghan police equipped with German know-how.

Germany this week reaffirmed its commitment to setting up a well-trained professional police force in Afghanistan with Schily pledging a further €60 million for the initiative over the next four years and donating 122 police cars.

On Thursday, Schily wrapped up a visit to Afghanistan to get a first-hand view of the German-led police training program and meet with President Hamid Karzai and Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Dschalali.

"There's been praise around the world for the work that they (the Germans) are doing here," Schily said, adding the reconstruction work in Afghanistan has brought Germany "a lot of honor and respect."

Schily assured his Afghan counterpart that German police officers in Afghanistan would stay "as long as they are needed" and continue to "aid Afghans help themselves."

Upholding human rights and the law

Afghanistan Konferenz in Katar

Schily, center, and his Afghan counterpart Ali Ahmad Jalali, left, during the 'Doha Conference on Police Reconstruction in Afghanistan'

Speaking earlier this week at a donor conference in the Qatari capital of Doha attended by representatives from more than 30 nations, Schily said that Afghanistan urgently needed a nationwide functioning police force organized under the central government in Kabul.

He also stressed that the police force had to be committed to upholding human rights and function in accordance with the law.

Schily added that Germany's reconstruction efforts in the country would continue to focus on training Afghan police officers to stabilize the country and strengthen domestic security ahead of September's national elections.

"Donated by Germany"

Germany has for the past two years been leading the police training program in Afghanistan, a fact reflected in the trademark green and white German police cars emblazoned with the words "Donated by Germany" dominating the streets of Kabul.

The police training program is part of Germany's wider commitment to support international efforts to restore democracy and civil society in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001.

Germany currently has 29 police officers and border guards stationed in Afghanistan. Their main job is to advise the Afghan interior ministry, train new police recruits and coordinate support and logistical operations.

By the end of June about 20,000 police officers will be trained in Afghanistan. The goal for the end of 2005 is 50,000 fully-trained police officers, of which 12,000 will be border police.

All-inclusive police academy

Though the main police training office is based in Kabul, efforts are now on to expand security operations outside the capital by opening up offices in Kunduz and in Herat, in western Afghanistan.

Polizistinnen in Kabul, Afghanistan

Habiba Sultan, 40, right, and Suraya Barekzai, 25, holding a AK-40 rifle, at the police academy in Kabul

In addition, Germany also set up a police academy in August 2002 to train recruits, which includes a continuing education program with courses in human rights and modern investigative methods. To ensure that Afghanistan's police force reflects the country's diverse ethnic makeup, the academy also seeks out female cadets as well as candidates from ethic minority groups.

Since the end of 2002, Germany has also been in charge of setting up Afghanistan's border police. Germany's efforts to train a civilian police force are part of a multi-national effort to ensure adequate security across the country.

Italy is in charge of setting up Afghanistan's judicial system, Great Britain is working to fight the drug trade, Japanese teams are helping to disarm former combatants and the United States is charged with setting up an Afghan army.

In Germany's "national interest"

Despite the achievements, Schily admitted that the police training initiative was still hobbled by the booming drug smuggling trade and armed militias led by powerful landlords and drug barons.

The minister stressed the importance of securing Afghanistan's porous borders and roping in neighboring countries in Afghanistan's security concept.

Germany's training of the police force in Afghanistan was an important contribution to the war against international terror and thus in "Germany's national interest," he added.

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