During his January 25-28 visit to Kabul, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) William R. Brownfield emphasized INL’s commitment to continued support to the Afghan government through counternarcotics, corrections, and justice programs.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield’s first public event was a signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Intent with Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics Rashedi to re-design the Good Performers Initiative (GPI). The Minister and Assistant Secretary underscored that cultivation, production, trafficking, and consumption of narcotics undermine governance and public health, fuel corruption, and fund the insurgency and terrorism. Assistant Secretary Brownfield said that the redesigned GPI program will broaden the definition of a “good performer” to reward progress on multiple fronts, including interdiction, eradication, public information, and demand reduction. Both the Minister and the Assistant Secretary highlighted the importance of GPI projects directly impacting rural communities, with an emphasis on alternative livelihoods.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield also presided at the January 27 handover ceremony for an INL-funded detention facility at the Counter-Narcotics Justice Center (CNJC). The $2.1 million expansion increases the detention center’s capacity from 58 to 364 inmates, reducing detainee transport requirements from other facilities and improving the efficiency of trial hearings at the CNJC, one of the premier judicial institutions in Afghanistan. Assistant Secretary Brownfield highlighted the CNJC’s success in convicting prominent drug traffickers and said that cooperation across justice sector agencies at the CNJC is a model for Afghanistan.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield also visited with prosecutors, defense attorneys, and criminal investigators participating in a gender justice training program at Camp Gibson. Speaking to the students, he highlighted the United States’ continued commitment to advancing the rights of women in Afghanistan. The training program, organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), uses INL funding to expand legal aid service delivery and provide gender justice training to a wide variety of Afghan participants. INL programs such as this combat gender-based violence, seek justice for its victims, and support the Afghan government’s goals of building and sustaining a secure environment for women to live free from intimidation, fear, and violence.
Finally, Assistant Secretary Brownfield underscored the importance of drug demand reduction programs in Afghanistan. While visiting the Colombo Plan offices, he posed for photos with two members of the Afghan national soccer team and took the opportunity to thank the players and the Afghan Premier League for serving as ambassadors for the Colombo Plan’s preventive drug education program. During their season, players visit schools that have adopted the preventive drug education curriculum, conduct youth soccer clinics, deliver anti-drug messages, and provide youth with positive role models. To date, this program has trained teachers in the Colombo Plan anti-drug curriculum at 300 schools across the country, reaching over 30,000 students.
INL and the United States Institute of Peace hosted a workshop on police reform February 10-12 in collaboration with the Government of Malta. The workshop focused on how to improve, change or reform police practices, including: crowd management, response to demonstrations, codes of conduct, and criminal investigative procedures. Twenty representatives from Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria participated in the workshop. The geographically diverse trainee population included individuals from the police, gendarmerie, and internal security ministries as well as civil society organizations. Drawing on international standards and best practices, participants drafted a model police code of conduct as well as crowd and crime scene management policies.
INL Deputy Assistant Secretary Todd Robinson attended the workshop. During remarks, he acknowledged the importance of this unique workshop and stated “by bringing together representatives from both government and civil society, we are provided with the opportunity to learn from each other, exchange best practices, and in the end come up with a better, more thought-out, comprehensive way to tackle these very critical police issues.”
This training is the third in a series of INL-funded regional workshops on criminal justice sector reform for countries in North Africa. The regional workshop series opens a critical dialogue between countries in North Africa and the Middle East, offering the opportunity for participating countries to exchange lessons learned, best practices, and shared challenges related to security sector reform in the region.
Since 2007, INL has trained more than 9,000 Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel and provided equipment to this institution, which assumed responsibility for internal security in a meaningful way for the first time after 2005. Because the ISF has met many of the program goals under the initial U.S.-Lebanon agreement, INL programming is evolving to new areas, such as a full-scope community policing program.
The core goal of the ISF Community Police Program is to help the ISF move from reactive to proactive policing, by changing how the ISF engages with the community. This project plays a significant role in reinforcing our primary foreign policy objective in Lebanon: to bolster Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty. The program also helps Lebanon to increase security and better serve the public, which is as important now as ever in a region experiencing great instability.
The ISF seek to “meet the expectations and have the complete trust of the Lebanese people.” A 2013 nationwide public opinion survey indicates that majority of population does not fully trust the ISF. This lack of trust largely reflects the behavior of individual ISF personnel, a lack of accountability, training, and effective patrolling. Fortunately, the ISF recognize these problems and are working to address them.
The ISF has made service to the public and integrity core focus areas of their strategic plan. After several years of receiving training from INL and the United Kingdom on the tenants of community policing, the ISF wants to put theory into practice. On January 16, 2014, the ISF launched their Policing Pilot Program at the Ras Beirut police station in downtown Beirut. The purpose of the program is to develop and implement a model of policing based on partnership with the community aimed at delivering effective policing, thereby increasing trust in the ISF. Inspector-General Pierre Nassar, a main participant in the program said, “Traditionally, civilians were viewed as potential opponents, whereas [now] the new approach favors interaction with civilians as partners and collaborators with the ISF.”
If the pilot program in Ras Beirut proves successful, it will be expanded to other pilot stations throughout Lebanon. Assuming these pilot stations are also successful, the doctrine will be mainstreamed throughout all of the ISF starting in about five years.