American Diplomatic Cable: A Silent Indian in a Multinational Meeting on Nepal

2007-02-09 12:45



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/09/2017


Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).


¶1. (C) In a February 6 meeting with the Ambassador, UK
Ambassador Hall, UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) head Ian Martin,
and an Indian Embassy representative, a visiting UK security
assessment team described the key challenges facing the
police as: 1) the absence of public debate on public security
and police reform; 2) lack of leadership within the Police
and Home Ministry to catalyze needed reform efforts; 3)
abysmally low morale among the police force; 4) misguided
planning for security ahead of planned June 2007 elections;
and 5) lack of police preparedness to address key security
challenges. The UK team recommended the gathered Missions
press for a scenario-based discussion to encourage Home
Ministry and Police leadership to plan ahead for election
security and issue necessary directives. The UK team also
highlighted the need to balance short-term election security
efforts with longer-term reform, and discussed how to
influence the development of the forthcoming Police Act,
promote a national-level committee on public safety/security
to encourage public debate and explore expansion of community

UK Security Assessment Team Shares Key Findings
——————————————— —

¶2. (C) On February 6, a visiting UK security assessment team
briefed Ambassador Moriarty, UK Ambassador Hall, the UN
Secretary General’s Personal Representative to Nepal Ian
Martin, and the Indian Political Counselor on the team’s
findings following a week of consultations focused on police.
The UK team included former UK police advisor in Nepal
Richard Miles, Roy Fleming from the Post-Conflict
Reconstruction Unit of the UK Department for International
Development (DFID), Andy McLean, DFID consultant, and Dr.
Thapa, a retired Nepal Police (NP) officer. The UK team
bemoaned the lack of public debate on police reform and on
the role and responsibilities of the police in providing
security for the planned June 2007 Constituent Assembly
elections. The team highlighted that the police officials
they met with were focused on equipment requirements for the
elections, citing NP requests for USD 100 million from donors
for communication, transport, and infrastructure needs. The
group agreed that there were more pressing challenges facing
the police, such as the lack of directives from their
civilian leadership, the absence of political will and low
morale. Without addressing these factors, the team said,
equipment spending would be wasted.

Leadership Lacking

¶3. (C) The team reported a woeful lack of leadership in both
the Home Ministry and the NP to reform the police force or
muster the political will and planning for the police to
deliver security for credible elections. Remarking that the
Inspector General of Police appears to be a “strawman,” Miles
commented that the quality of personnel in senior police
management positions since he left Nepal in 2004 had
degraded, and many of the best officers had been pushed out
and replaced by “duds.” He commented that there were some
good officers within the police at lower levels with the
potential to be agents of change. However, they were
paralyzed by the lack of political mandate from above. In
addition to the problem of inadequate police and Home
Ministry leadership, the team said Nepal also lacked the
higher-level security and defense management apparatus,
including an effective National Security Council, to push
through reform and incorporate wider civilian and security
leaders in the dialogue. Fleming said that the U.S., UK, UN,
and India were best positioned to press the Home Ministry and
NP leadership into action.

Rockbottom Morale, Rapid Recruitment Concerns

KATHMANDU 00000341 002 OF 003


¶4. (C) The team cited extremely low morale among the police,
saying they had hit “rockbottom” and were not receiving the
support they needed from civilian or NP leadership. Some
police officials had told the team that, if individual
Maoists applied to the police under the normal hiring
process, they would be treated as normal recruits.
Lower-level Maoists were viewed as “not too indoctrinated”
and could be recruited. Other police officials were not keen
to have Maoists join their ranks but were willing to consider
using Maoists to temporarily provide additional surge support
during the elections. The UK team also voiced concern over
the police’s plans to recruit an additional 5,000 to 7,000
officers ahead of the elections, citing the challenges this
would pose for long-term police reform efforts, including
ensuring diversity and necessary training.

On The Sidelines

¶5. (C) The assembled envoys noted that, after months of
being told by their leadership to stand-by in the face of
Maoist crime, the police forces were loathe to be proactive.
This apathy, Ambassador Moriarty stated, could be seen in the
recent events in the Terai. Miles bemoaned the effect the
police’s lack of public order tactics and the absence of
necessary training on proportionality and human rights had on
the police’s ability to perform their duties. Miles said it
was typical for the police to use force as a first response
in a crowd control setting and to obtain authority
retroactively for use of force from the Chief District
Officer (CDO). In the Nepalgunj protests in December, he
said, the decision to fire was first made by a scared
officer; authorization was signed by the CDO after the fact.

APF Should Merge with NP

¶6. (C) When asked by Martin what the team learned regarding
the Armed Police Force’s mandate, UK team member and former
Nepali Police (NP) officer Dr. Thapa said the APF should not
continue to exist as a separate entity but rather become a
special unit within the Nepal Police. The current separate
structure, the UK team argued, created a lot of confusion
because of independent reporting chains and a lack of
on-the-ground coordination.

Recommendations: Short-term Election Security

¶7. (C) Ian Martin asked the team for specific recommendations
in the short-term to promote security in the lead-up to
elections, and referred to the UN police advisors that would
be joining the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Fleming said
that first and foremost Home Ministry and police leadership
must be pressed to think hard about election security, plan
ahead, realize the weight of the task, and issue necessary
directives. The group discussed the possibility of convening
the Home Ministry, Police, and potentially Election
Commission leadership to have a dialogue and/or
scenario-based discussion on election security. The police’s
current approach of requesting millions from donors in
logistical supplies was hardly a plan. A scenario-based
discussion might allow leaders to discuss worst-case outcomes
and look ahead at effective ways to avoid them. Again, the
UK team reiterated that if top leadership did not improve,
lower-level investments and reform efforts would be wasted.
The group also discussed the possibility of a joint message
from the U.S., UK, UN and India to put collective pressure on
the police to dissuade them from their rapid recruitment
campaign. Finally, the UK team decried the lack of
information from the capital to the districts regarding the
election processes; local civilian and security officials
were often in the dark. The UK security assessment team
raised the need for dialogue between the police, political
parties, and civilian leadership on the election process and
their respective roles.

Recommendations: Mid to Longer-term Reform Efforts
——————————————— —–

¶8. (C) The UK Ambassador reiterated the importance of
balancing focus on short-term election security with mid- to
longer-term police reform needs. The UK team said
development of the Police Act should be emphasized since the
Interim Parliament would likely enact it and the Act offered
an opportunity to begin police reform. The Act would be
central to addressing issues such as recruiting practices,
ensuring an independent police service commission, and
promoting a police code-of-conduct. Wide dialogue among
civilian and security officials, as well as civil society on
the Act, could jump-start public debate on police reform. The
Deputy Attorney General had also asked the team for
recommendations of individuals who could serve as advisors to
develop the Act. (Note: Post will follow-up to see if
DOJ/ICITAP police advisor Garrett Zimmon, currently at Post,
could assist.)

¶9. (C) Roy Fleming, from DFID’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Unit, said that the gathered group should also explore the
possibility of a national committee on public safety/security
to begin the public debate on police reform. He referred to
the committees set up by the Seven-Party Alliance and Maoists
on other key issues, such as Army reform, and said that
public safety/police must be similarly addressed. This
committee, along with the Police Act, should also address,
the Ambassador emphasized, how the proposed federal system in
Nepal would impact police reform. Miles also highlighted the
success of community policing efforts in Nepal, citing the
wide praise for pilot projects. He said avenues should be
explored on how to expand and institutionalize community
policing nationally.

——- ¶10. (C) While the UK security assessment team’s findings were
not surprising, reiterating in large part our own conclusions
on how to reform the police, the U.S.-UK-UN-India dialogue
did offer the opportunity to brainstorm possible
collaborative next steps on police reform. Collective
messages will more likely have an impact in the face of
paralyzed Home Ministry and Police leadership. We note the
silence of the Indian political counselor. (The Indian
Ambassador has reportedly returned to New Delhi because of
illness). India seems at this point inclined to observe the
multilateral security dialogue but not play an active role.
We will continue to engage the GOI bilaterally on these
issues. We will also look for ways to support the UK
recommendation of a scenario-based discussion with key GON
leaders to ensure the Police and Home Ministry understand the
task of the election security project ahead. We will ensure
as well that any short-term investments the U.S. makes to the
police for election security, whenever possible, go beyond
logistical support, dissuade rapid recruitment practices
which are not inclusive, and lay the foundation for
longer-term reform.



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