Kabul, Sep 25 (EFE).- The Taliban government in Afghanistan plans to install a network of surveillance cameras in the country’s major cities, a project that has raised interest from China and concerns from activists over fears of increasing oppression.
“We are at the stage of planning and developing the methodology to implement this mass surveillance system,” Taliban Interior Ministry spokesperson Mufti Abdul Matin Qani told EFE.
According to the spokesperson, there are currently some 62,000 cameras in Kabul and other cities that are monitored from a central control room.
A committee made up of security experts is “developing a methodology and allocating a budget to implement this mass surveillance system in the country,” Qani said, adding that the implementation could take about four years.
This large-scale monitoring system is along the lines of a plan initially devised by the Americans before their withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
The Taliban have already held initial talks with Chinese telecom giant Huawei about their possible participation in the project, said Qani but stressed that domestic companies would be given preference.
“We would prefer an internal company if they have the ability to carry out this large-scale assignment, otherwise we will turn to foreign companies,” the spokesperson explained.
The talks with Huawei were only “simple conversation,” and no concrete agreements have been reached yet, he said.
The decision for increased surveillance has raised concerns among human rights groups about increased repression on the people and greater limitations on their freedom of movement.
“Implementing such a vast architecture of mass surveillance under the guise of ‘national security’ sets a template for the Taliban to continue its draconian policies that violate fundamental rights of people in Afghanistan – especially women in public spaces,” Matt Mahmoudi, Amnesty International’s Researcher and Advisor on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights, said in a statement.
Women’s rights activist Nahid Noori told EFE that “the situation is already intolerable for Afghan women, and this system will further strain the freedom and free movement of the Afghan people, especially Afghan women.”
“The surveillance system can target anti-Taliban civilian movements and will further allow the Taliban to implement their harsh and violative decisions on Afghan women,” she added.
On the other hand, several military analysts were optimistic about the initiative, and claimed it would enhance the country’s security and help fight crime.
The installation of security cameras is “important for the reduction of criminal activities in the country as many countries have this system for security,” military and security analyst Sarwar Niazai told EFE. EFE