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Afghanistan

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 20 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance is provided by her Department for the training of (a) members of the judiciary and (b) the police force in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. (75064)

Working with Italy, which retains the international lead on judicial reform in Afghanistan, and other international partners, the UK is helping Afghanistan establish a functional, accessible, equitable and sustainable justice system.

The UK has provided US$500,000 in support of the United Nations Development Programme “Strengthening the Justice System of Afghanistan” (SJSA). The SJSA programme is helping the Government of Afghanistan restructure the justice system to bring it into compliance with the constitution; rehabilitate judicial infrastructure; strengthen service delivery capacity of justice institutions and justice professionals; promote rule of law and improve access to justice. This programme supports the Government of Afghanistan's “Justice for All” Action Plan which provides the basis for the reform of the Justice Sector over the next twelve years.

Through the Global Opportunities Fund, the UK has also funded the Bar Human Rights Committee to deliver training to key actors in the legal sector. The training, delivered in April 2006, to staff from the Ministry of Women's Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Afghan National Police and the Lawyers Association of Afghanistan focused on the re-establishment of the rule of law, women's access to justice, and human rights in international and domestic law.

Germany is responsible for co-ordinating international assistance to the Afghan government's police reform programmes. Since 2002, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has administered almost £5 million in support of these programmes through the Department for International Development/Ministry of Defence/FCO funded Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP). In financial year (FY) 2002-03 the GCPP Afghanistan Strategy contributed around £112,000, in 2003-04 £2.5 million, in 2004-05 £1.6 million and in 2005-06 £760,000. This has funded two UK police trainers at the Kabul Police Academy (2002-06), five UK mentors at the Regional Police Training College in Mazar-e-Sharif (2004-06) and the creation of a Crime Scene Investigation team in Kabul (2003-05). In FY 2006-07 the GCPP will continue to support police reform through the appointment of a Senior Police Adviser to the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah. The Adviser's role will include the provision of support to local police and justice officials in Helmand as well as identifying ways in which the UK can provide assistance to support the German and US police programmes.

The UK has also allocated £15 million in FY 2006-07 towards counter-narcotics law enforcement in Afghanistan. This funding will help support the Counter-Narcotics Police of Afghanistan, the lead drugs law enforcement agency, and the Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF) through training, mentoring and equipping personnel. The ASNF has caused significant disruption to the drugs trade, forcing traffickers to move drugs in smaller quantities. The ASNF is playing an important role as part of the wider Afghan law enforcement effort against illegal drugs.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the progress in the training of (a) members of the judiciary and (b) the police force in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. (75065)

Italy has been leading the international community's effort on judicial reform. Training members of the judiciary has been a central focus and progress has been made. Over the past four years a series of training programmes funded by the international community has seen over 600 Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers, of whom 42 were women, undergo specialised legal training. These programmes are set to continue with further projects delivering training in legal aid, criminal and commercial law, technical assistance, financial crime, juvenile crime and gender justice to senior judges, law graduates and government officials.

Despite these efforts Afghanistan's justice system still lacks sufficiently qualified officials, adequate legal education and the necessary administrative tools and physical infrastructure. The UK will continue to support both the Afghan Government and our development partners in reforming Afghanistan's justice sector.

Germany has been leading efforts to train and reform the Afghan national police with assistance from the US. Since August 2002, there have been some considerable achievements. Over 50,000 police of all ranks and branches have been trained at the re-established Police Academy and at five regional training centres. A pay and rank review is under way aiming to reduce the current top-heavy structure and raise police salaries in order to attract the best candidates. An international conference on border management and police was co-hosted by Afghanistan and Germany in Qatar in February. It endorsed the findings that replenishment of the Law and Order Trust Fund, used to partly fund police salaries, was critical to the success of police pay and rank reform. We support this finding and the valuable work that the international community, in particular Germany and the US are putting into police training and reform.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funds her Department has provided to support the training of the police force in Afghanistan in each year since 2002; and if she will make a statement. (75067)

Since 2002, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has administered almost £5 million in support of the Afghan Government's police reform through the Department for International Development/Ministry of Defence/FCO funded Global Conflict Prevention Pool (GCPP). In financial year 2002-03 the GCPP Afghanistan Strategy contributed around £112,000, in 2003-04 £2.5 million, in 2004-05 £1.6 million and in 2005-06 £760,000. This funding has seen two UK police trainers at the Kabul Police Academy (2002-06), five UK mentors at the Regional Police Training College in Mazar-e-Sharif (2004-06) and the creation of a Crime Scene Investigation team in Kabul (2003-05).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the (a) Secretary of State for International Development and (b) the Secretary of State for Defence regarding the security situation in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. (75072)

There are regular meetings at ministerial and official level between the three departments on a range of issues relating to UK support to help establish a stable and prosperous Afghanistan. The security situation remains central to these discussions.

Our dialogue ensures the UK’s efforts in Afghanistan remain on track. The recent deployment of a fully-integrated multi-disciplinary military/civilian mission to Helmand Province demonstrates the importance of a continued cross-government approach.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total UK expenditure on reconstruction assistance for Afghanistan has been since 2002; and if she will make a statement. (75073)

Since financial year 2001-02, the UK has committed over £1 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan. This includes the most recent pledge of £500 million in development aid made at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2006.

The UK is the second largest bilateral donor to Afghanistan behind the United States. We also remain the largest contributor to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, having committed £295 million between 2002-08.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the reduction in the volume of the poppy harvest which will result from the work of the British and coalition troops in Afghanistan in each of the next four years. (76136)

UK forces in Afghanistan are deployed under the international security assistance force (ISAF) and are not there to take direct action against the drugs trade. They will contribute to the broader counter-narcotics effort by providing the secure environment in which the rule of law can be applied, reconstruction can take place and legal rural livelihoods can be developed. ISAF forces will be able to help with the provision of training to Afghan counter-narcotics forces and will, within means and capabilities, provide support to their operations. They will also help the Afghan Government explain their policies to the Afghan people.

Sustainable drug elimination strategies take time. Bringing about a sustainable decrease in poppy cultivation requires a range of activities including arresting and convicting the traffickers who profit from the trade, and putting in place the development programmes which enable farmers to move away from growing poppy. That is why the UK is spending £270 million over a three-year period on supporting the Government of Afghanistan’s National Drug Control Strategy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of (a) reports of detainee abuse and (b) extra-judicial police actions in Afghanistan; and if she will make a statement. (78910)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Human Rights Report states that Afghanistan remains a country of concern for human rights reasons. We continue to receive reports of detainee abuse and extra-judicial action throughout Afghanistan. While the Afghan Government have made real progress in improving human rights, they currently lack the resources and capacity to deal with all the challenges they face.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), established in June 2002, is an autonomous institution within the Afghan Government set up to monitor human rights abuses and implement transitional justice. It continues to work closely with the Government of Afghanistan and international partners to combat the culture of impunity that has existed in Afghanistan and led to past human rights abuses. Since its inception the Commission has closed some 40 private jails; has had 1,600 people, who were being held illegally, released from prison, and managed eight workshops for prison governors on human rights. Its work is helping the country make a full transition to stability and peace based on democracy and human rights. I am pleased to be able to tell the hon. Member that the UK recently committed US$1 million in funding to the AIHRC.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the total UK expenditure on (a) poppy eradication and interdiction, (b) law enforcement and (c) support of alternative livelihoods has been in Afghanistan in each year since 2003. (78911)

Over financial years 2003-04 and 2004-05, the UK allocated the following amounts to poppy eradication, law enforcement and interdiction, and alternative livelihoods in Afghanistan:

£ million

Financial year

2003-04

2004-05

Eradication

1.33

2.25

Law enforcement and interdiction

3.6

8.6

Alternative livelihoods

5.8

10.7

As interdiction and eradication are separate strands of work the figures are not combined; interdiction figures are combined with law enforcement.

A written ministerial statement providing a breakdown of the £87 million spent over 2005-06 will shortly be released. Over 2006-07, £91.7 million will be spent by the UK on counter-narcotics in Afghanistan.