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Thursday, April 22, 2010    

Report: Unchecked U.S. funding leads to abuses by Palestinian security forces

CAIRO — The unconditional allocation of millions of U.S. dollars has encouraged human rights and other abuses by Palestinian Authority security forces and the government in Ramallah, according to a report by the Arab Reform Initiative.   

The United States has increased funding for PA security forces and plans to allocate more than $100 million over the next year.

"PA security agencies — intelligence and preventive security — resorted to arbitrary detentions and mistreatment of detainees including torture with the full knowledge of and alleged encouragements from foreign intelligence agencies such as the CIA," the report said.

"It can thus be said that the outside players had a negative impact on the democratization of the security sector, because their priority was efficiency — mainly defined by Israel's security needs — rather than security sector reform of the kind that is implemented in other countries as part of democracy promotion schemes."

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The Arab Reform Initiative also asserted that PA security forces have been significantly improved under a U.S. program led by Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton. The report, titled "The State of Reform in the Arab World," asserted that Palestinian security forces in the West Bank were being professionalized and approaching that of an army.

"The result is that this force was brought up to the level of a pre-army with members behaving like serious professionals and where the factionalism that plagued it since its formation has been almost eliminated," the report said.

Over the last 18 months, the U.S. program has trained five battalions, all but one of them from the National Security Forces. The report said NSF has shed most of the practices that characterized other PA security forces.

"One sign of improvement is that the National Security Force was not involved in any arbitrary arrests, interrogations, or other bad practices," the report said.

The report also cited the U.S.-sponsored training of NSF battalions in a four-month course held in Jordan. The PA has also dismissed or retired veteran senior officers in NSF.

"The training of the National Security [Force] in particular included laying off old leaders, bringing in new non-partisan elements and providing them with professional training, mostly in Jordan," the report said.

The report said other PA security agencies have not followed NSF. The report cited abuses by the PA's Preventive Security Apparatus and General Intelligence, which have been mentored by the U.S. intelligence community.

"Of all sectors, the security sector in Palestine was most strongly affected by the negative spiral of internal political conflict, regression of democracy, and increased outside interference," the report said. "Security agencies of the Palestinian Authority saw an increase of direct outside intervention in response to the internal conflict, through enhanced financial support, training, equipment and sharing of intelligence. When assessing the impact of this foreign role on the professionalization and the democratization of the sector, we see that it had both positive and negative effects."

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