Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prisoner Releases Questioned by Afghan Military

There is tension among the Afghan leadership in government, the ministries, the police, and the army on the issue of prisoners. This tension exists because (either through incompetence, corruption, or political objectives) Taliban prisoners are being released. Many of these released prisoners are resuming the fight on the battlefield against the army and police forces that had already captured them once - sometimes at great cost.

President Karzai has released many of the Taliban prisoners - presumably as an attempt to help the reconciliation process with the Taliban insurgents. There is no indication that these prisoner releases over the past few years have had any effect in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table or in winning any concessions. In fact, members of the High Peace Council - the Afghan organization charged with reconciliation and reintegration - have been targeted repeatedly by the insurgents.

The Afghan judicial system is under-resourced, inadequately staffed, lacking sufficient training, subject to coercion by the insurgents, easily influenced by warlords and power-brokers, and extremely corrupt. The U.S. (and ISAF) efforts to introduce warrant-based targeting and Evidence-Based Operations (EvBO) have had mixed results. Establishing Rule of Law (RoL) within a counterinsurgency environment is essential. The introduction of EvBO is an admirable goal; but it seems that the Afghan police force (lack of training, forensics equipment, and inexperience) is not up to the task and the judicial system is inept and corrupt. Perhaps the introduction of EvBO was a step too far too early in this very corrupt Afghan society.

Read more about this prisoner release issue in "Afghans question prisoner releases amid violent fighting season", Stars and Stripes, September 12, 2014 here.

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