June 25, 2013
Government likely to push ahead with banning private security firms in Afghanistan
The Afghan government announced on Monday (24 June) that it would go ahead with plans to ban private security contractors who were guarding foreign military bases. The government has been attempting to eliminate private security contractors since a Presidential decree was passed in this regard in 2012. To date, the government has cancelled the licences of 109 local and foreign security companies. According to the new regulations, only companies guarding diplomatic missions will be allowed to continue to operate, while all other contracts are supposed to be covered by the government’s security force, the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF).
Significance:The government’s insistence on banning private security contractors is likely to increase security risks for foreign firms and NGOs working in Afghanistan. While in theory, all outstanding contracts should be picked up and covered by the APPF, in practice, the APPF does not yet have the personnel to service all existing private security contracts, and there remain questions about the training and capabilities of APPF personnel. As a result, while the contracts are in transition, smaller foreign firms and non-governmental organisation personnel particularly will face a security shortfall. The additional problem is that government security forces often treat the APPF as an auxiliary force, and local police chiefs and army commanders in remoter parts of the country are likely to requisition APPF personnel, leaving NGOs and private firms operating in certain areas without any security cover, and increasing their vulnerability to attack or kidnap risks.