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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Kiwi effort makes difference in Bamiyan

When Inspector Ged Byers joined the police in 1978, he never thought the job would take him to Afghanistan.
The long-serving police officer has just returned from a six-month stint working to streamline the judicial and prosecution system, combat corruption and train police in how to work with the community.
Acting as superintendent to two other police officers from Auckland and Christchurch, Mr Byers was based at the New Zealand Defence Force headquarters in Bamiyan province.
Working under the United Nations Police Mission banner, Mr Byers said one of the toughest things was trying to restructure the police force from a military role to public service.
"The issue is these people have been fighting for 40 years or so and their police have been in a military-type role where very much it is `might is right' ... and my take on things is that they've struggled with the sort of relationship they have with the public."
Working to establish a judicial system had been rewarding, leading to the first public trial in Bamiyan history.
Admitting to a few nerves when he first arrived, Mr Byers said he soon realised the province was relatively safe as long as protocol was followed. There was always a chance an insurgent could attack but the New Zealand forces were well-prepared and professional.
"I think naturally you're a wee bit concerned because while you've had pre-deployment training you're still influenced by what you hear in the media ... but the reality is it's very different in Bamiyan. Having said that, if you went to Kabul or one of the other bases you visited the situation is different, very different."
When the New Zealand forces suffered their first casualty, Lieutenant Tim O'Donnell, this year, it was a tough time in the camp. Mr Byers had worked with Mr O'Donnell's father so knew the family. He was confident the knowledge that familiar people were working hard to bring their son home had helped the family.
Asked if a New Zealand police presence in Afghanistan was necessary, Mr Byers said: "I think so. If we don't do this work then you're not going to have civilian policing. If you want development in that country, if you want to do away with the corruption you want people to have confidence in the law – and the lack of confidence in the law was one of the breeding factors for the Taleban."
News Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/4442754/Kiwi-effort-makes-difference-in-Bamiyan

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