Security Sector Reform in Central Asia: Exploring the Policy - Practice Gap of Police Reforms and the Civil Society Factor in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
This research paper is an abridged version of my Master’s thesis, that analyses the policy-practice gap of democratic reforms of the police forces in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the role of civil society within it. This evidence-based assessment has been related to theoretical debates about Security Sector Reform, the current dominant concept within academic and international policy circles on security assistance that entails (re)building and professionalizing security forces while creating democratic institutions and mechanisms to hold them controllable, transparent and accountable. In my research, I have suggested an approach to measure the progress of democratic governance of the police forces through a number of qualitative indicators that include the creation of independent public oversight and monitoring bodies, battling corruption within law enforcement agencies, and transparency of official police reports and statistics. I have put the formulated policies by national governments and the OSCE annual reports on police-related activities next to my research findings gained from reports and interviews with local civil society representatives, to indicate the rather limited progress of police reforms in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It also came forward that strengthening civil society alone will not be enough in a context where the Ministries of Internal Affairs, responsible for the police services and policing, are very resistant to any change, and public support for democratic reforms remains too narrow to make a difference.