Overseas aid handed to Afghan police was linked to ‘criminality and human rights abuses’, new report says

  • Britain’s aid fund in Afghanistan has been ‘implicated in criminality’ report finds 
  • Some £252 million of taxpayers’ money was given to ‘corrupt’ Afghan police 
  • The findings come in a report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact
  • The police were engaging in ‘extortion, torture and extra-judicial killings’ it found

Britain’s huge aid spending in Afghanistan has been ‘implicated in criminality and human rights abuses’, a damning report finds today.

Some £252 million of taxpayers’ money was given to ‘corrupt’ Afghan police even though they were acting as a paramilitary force and engaged in ‘extortion, torture and extra-judicial killings’, it said.

Senior civil servants repeatedly tried to end the handouts but were ‘overruled at the highest levels of the UK Government’, according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) watchdog.

ICAI commissioner Sir Hugh Bayley said last night: ‘It’s clear that the remarkable efforts by those working on the UK aid programme made a significant difference to many people in Afghanistan.

Some £252 million of taxpayers’ money was given to ‘corrupt’ Afghan police even though they were acting as a paramilitary force and engaged in ‘extortion, torture and extra-judicial killings’, according to the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) watchdog. Stock image of the view of Kabul from surrounding mountains 

‘However, the way the UK pursued its primary objective of building a viable Afghan state contained key flaws that contributed to its ultimate failure, and there are questions around the appropriateness of using UK aid to fund Afghan counter-insurgency operations.’

The study reveals that almost £3.5 billion in UK aid was given to Afghanistan in the past two decades as part of an ‘ambitious’ international attempt to turn it into a stable and functional state. 

However, there were major ‘flaws’ in this approach as the mission was led by the United States, which wanted to defeat the Taliban and exclude them from the political process.

The Foreign Office said: ‘UK aid improved health, increased school enrolment, provided humanitarian support to the most vulnerable, and led the way in clearing landmines and other unexploded munitions.’

Over six years the UK spent £252million on the salaries of local police and prison officers in an attempt to improve security.

But the ICAI report notes that the Afghan National Police ‘acted primarily as a paramilitary force, operating armed checkpoints across the country in an attempt to control the Taliban insurgency’.

Heavy casualties led to low morale, desertions, theft of arms and ‘ghost officers’ on the payroll.

‘There were numerous reports from human rights organisations of police corruption and brutality, including extortion, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings,’ the watchdog states.

Although UK support help protect residents from the Taliban and reduced demands for bribes, the police force ‘did not develop a substantial civilian policing role, making it a questionable use of the aid budget’.

‘We found evidence of a number of attempts at senior levels to terminate the support, which were overruled at the highest levels of the UK government,’ the study says.

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