Code of Conduct underpins modern policing in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s national police force virtually disappeared as a legacy of decades of conflict.
Hikmatullah Stanikzai, 26, and Safiullah Stanikzai, 25, are part of a new generation at the Afghan National Police (ANP), determined to rebuild a renewed police force capable of protecting the rights of citizens and promoting national unity among Afghans.
- Through LOTFA, UNDP is supporting Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs to encourage full adoption of the country’s first Code of Conduct for its national police force
- As of February 2014, a total of 10,393 police personnel have attended Code of Conduct training, including 818 Police Commanders
- UNDP trained 200 ANP professional trainers to deliver a basic Code of Conduct course and these trainers have since presented the course to more than 9,000 police
- Jointly with the government, UNDP has developed an illustrated Code of Conduct booklet in Dari and Pashto which is being distributed to ANP personnel throughout the country
- Consistent with international policing standards, the ANP Code of Conduct is enforceable and carries potential disciplinary consequences, while also giving police the right to appeal
Based in Kabul, they are among more than 10,300 ANP personnel who have so far attended training to learn about Afghanistan’s first ever Code of Conduct for its national police force.
Importantly, the code contains uniform standards for police behaviour and is seen as a fundamental tool underpinning the modernisation of the ANP. Respect for human dignity, restraint in using force, honesty and service to the community are among the code’s nine basic principles.
“The code reinforces for me that maintaining the secrets that members of the community share with us is very, very important because without respecting the confidentiality of information, we won’t be able to gain the trust of people,” Hikmatullah says.
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) helped the government develop the code, which was finalized two years ago. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has since collaborated with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs to deliver police training and education across the country to encourage the code’s full adoption.
It is part of efforts supported by the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA) to strengthen the country’s law enforcement.
“I think it’s very important to enhance the capacity of the police and, for this reason, continuous education and training is a vital aspect to increase professionalism,” says Safiullah, who assists with the logistics for nationwide police training.
“One aspect I liked from the Code of Conduct training was the message that police should always have a positive attitude to people instead of saying we’re too busy or too tired or that it’s none of our business. By being positive, we’ll get a better response which will help us do our jobs,” Safiullah explains.
Starting in February 2014, an illustrated Code of Conduct booklet in Dari and Pashto is being distributed to ANP personnel around the country. It was developed with support from UNDP, along with an educational poster outlining the code’s principles which is for display at police stations.
The pocket booklet articulates how protecting the lives and property of citizens – especially vulnerable groups – sustaining peace and stability for society, and preventing and detecting crimes are core obligations and responsibilities of the ANP.
It reinforces the message that the public and police leadership maintain the right to expect the highest standards of policing.
Increasing the level of professionalism and changing the mindset of police and the communities they serve, through the code and other initiatives, is considered vital to attract more dedicated, capable men and women to take up careers with the ANP.
“I joined the police force two years ago to serve my people and the country, and because it was my passion over many years to become a police officer,” Hikmatullah reveals.
By improving accountability, the police will be able to win the hearts of community members in the future, according to Safiullah. “My hope is that we’ll have a stronger and reformed police force for this country,” he says.
The Code of Conduct training and education has been funded by the Republic of South Korea through LOTFA.