Afghanistan’s Minister of Interior Affairs has created a consultative body of civil society representatives to discuss the policing needs of the Afghan public.
This Consultative Council enables and encourages the police to directly engage with the public and allows for the public to voice its concerns to the police.
Council members represent a wide range of society and include four women. One of the women, Mary Akrami, is Director of Afghan Women’s Skills Development Centre.
“This is a great initiative,” Ms Akrami said of the Council, “and we’ll be able to share concerns and give advice. My priority is to get more women working in this sector, treated equally and sitting alongside us here today.”
Indeed, integrating women into the policing system will be an issue discussed at the Council this year. Other topics for discussion will include the role of the police in Afghan society, the security of communities and police accountability.
The Council is one of a number of public engagement initiatives supported by the DFID-funded Strategic Support to the Ministry of Interior program.
The program’s Team Leader, Tonita Murray, explained, “The Council heralds a shift in police thinking and practice from a militaristic authoritarian state organisation having no responsibility for accountability to the public, to one that sees itself serving the public and responding to its security, safety, and service needs.”
The program also supports other public engagement initiatives. For instance, it is working on the redesign of the Ministry of Interior website and social media platforms, from sites featuring the police as counter terrorist fighters to ones showing the multi-faceted role of the police and its interaction with the public.