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Afghanistan

    October 06, 2016

    The Afghan government and Taliban forces should urgently facilitate swift and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief into Kunduz, where thousands of civilians are trapped in increasingly dire conditions, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has interviewed medical workers and civilians stuck in Kunduz amid fighting after the Taliban launched an assault on 3 October. Kunduz residents have described grim scenes as food and water supplies have been exhausted and electricity was cut. The city’s civilian hospital has run out of medical supplies and sustained rocket and gunfire attacks on 5 October.

    “Civilians in Kunduz are once again at a precipice, and time is running out. Unless all parties to the conflict permit a humanitarian corridor to allow vital aid in and people to flee, we could soon be looking at a devastating humanitarian crisis,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “International humanitarian law clearly prohibits launching attacks against, or from, civilian areas – those suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice in fair trials.”

    October 03, 2016

    Responding to the news that Taliban fighters have launched a coordinated attack on the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan, Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:

    “Civilians in Kunduz have woken up this morning to find themselves once again caught up in a storm of appalling violence. It is extremely worrying that Taliban fighters are exposing residents to attacks and sweeping them into a raging war, which has already cost them so much. Needlessly endangering civilians by launching attacks from their midst is prohibited under international law, and demonstrates the Taliban’s utter disregard for civilian safety and right to life.

    “All parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect civilians, including media and humanitarian workers, and ensure they are protected amid this renewed violence in Kunduz. Civilians must never be used as human shields.”

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    For further information, please contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236
    Email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    September 06, 2016

    “The attack by an armed group on the aid agency CARE International in Kabul is the deliberate targeting of civilians and constitutes a war crime. The cardinal rule of international humanitarian law is that parties to an armed conflict must never deliberately attack civilians,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “This is sadly the latest in a series of horrific attacks in the Afghan capital, leading to unlawful killing of civilians. Victims and survivors, including the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, have a right to justice and reparation. The government has a duty to protect civilians and prevent further such attacks. There must be an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials – without recourse to the death penalty.”

     

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    June 15, 2016

    The allegations that have come forward through an anonymous letter from members of the Canadian Military Police and reported today in La Presse, regarding the Canadian military’s detention policy and practices  in Afghanistan are gravely concerning. For years, Amnesty International called for a halt to the handover of detainees to Afghan authorities because of concerns about torture. The organization has repeatedly called for transparent investigations into the potential complicity of Canadian forces in serious human rights violations committed by Afghan forces following the transfers. Today’s revelations, if true, underscore the urgent need for a Commission of Inquiry in order to ascertain the full facts of what occurred and identify the reforms needed to ensure these circumstances do not arise again. 

    June 08, 2016

    Signed by many human rights experts, parliamentarians and other eminent Canadians, an Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was just released by the Rideau Institute, further to their earlier report, entitled: Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, (Omar Sabry, September, 2015, Rideau Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives publishers).                  

    This Open Letter comes just days before the Government of Canada must formally respond in writing to e-70 (Afghanistan), an electronic petition to Parliament calling on the Government of Canada “to establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the facts with respect to policies, practices, legal and other opinions, decisions, and conduct of Canadian government actors, including Ministers and senior officials, concerning Afghan detainees throughout Canada's involvements in Afghanistan from 2001”.

    May 31, 2016

    The number of Afghans who have fled violence and remained trapped in their own country – where they live on the brink of survival - has dramatically doubled over the past three years, a new report by Amnesty International highlights.

    A staggering 1.2 million people are internally displaced in Afghanistan today, a dramatic increase from some 500,000 in 2013. Afghans already form one of the world’s largest refugee populations, with an estimated 2.6 million Afghan citizens living beyond the country’s border.

    Amnesty International’s new report, ‘My Children Will Die This Winter’: Afghanistan’s Broken Promise to the Displaced, casts fresh light on the country’s forgotten victims of war who have fled their homes but remain displaced within the country’s borders.

    “While the world’s attention seems to have moved on from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the plight of those left behind by the conflict,” said Champa Patel, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    May 09, 2016

    The death penalty will deliver neither the justice that victims deserve nor the security that Afghanistan seeks, Amnesty International said today.

    Six men were executed on 8 May 2016 after they were convicted for their  involvement in a series of high-profile violent attacks - including the 2011 killing of former President and head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and an attack on a Kabul supermarket in the same year.

    The executions mark the first time the government of President Ashraf Ghani has resorted to this cruel, unjust and irreversible punishment this year. Since a bombing last month in Kabul that killed more than 64 people, the Afghanistan government has vowed to implement the death penalty more frequently.

    The families who lost loved ones in violent attacks deserve justice for these appalling crimes,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director. “But the death penalty merely serves as vengeance, perpetuates the cycle of violence, and fails to address any root causes.”

    May 04, 2016

    Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani should not sign execution orders, Amnesty International said today.

    “By hastily seeking retribution for the horrific bombings that killed over 64 people in Kabul last month, the government of Afghanistan’s plans to execute those convicted of terror offences will neither bring the victims the justice they deserve, nor Afghanistan the security it needs,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia.

    “There is no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent, and there are fears that it will only serve to perpetuate a cycle of violence without tackling any of the root causes.”

    “The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment. In a context where there are very serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the legal process, the use of torture by security forces to extract confessions, and the narrow window for appeal, there is a particular risk of mistakes being made that cannot be corrected.”

    October 03, 2015

    Fires burn in the MSF emergency trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after it was hit and partially destroyed by missiles 03 October 2015. Photo: MSF

    The bombing of a Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan today is a deplorable loss of life that must be urgently and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said.

    The MSF surgical hospital in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan was this morning hit by repeated airstrikes, killing at least nine staff members and an unknown number of patients. Many are still unaccounted for. It is unclear who was responsible for the bombing, although the US military has admitted that a US airstrike “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility”. MSF informed all parties earlier this week of the GPS coordinates of its hospital.

    October 01, 2015

    Mass murder, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by Taliban death squads are just some of the harrowing civilian testimonies emerging from Kunduz as Afghan forces today claimed to have regained control of key areas of the northern city, Amnesty International said.

    The organization has spoken to numerous people, the majority of them women, who have fled Kunduz since Monday, when the Taliban launched a sudden assault on the city. Women human rights defenders from Kunduz spoke of a “hit list” being used by the Taliban to track down activists and others, and described how fighters had raped and killed numerous civilians.

    “The harrowing accounts we’ve received paint a picture of a reign of terror during the Taliban’s brutal capture of Kunduz this week. The multiple credible reports of killings, rapes and other horrors meted out against the city’s residents must prompt the Afghan authorities to do more now to protect civilians, in particular in areas where more fighting appears imminent,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    September 29, 2015

    The Taliban are exposing civilians to danger during the conflict in Kunduz by hiding in people’s houses and conducting door-to-door searches for Afghan security personnel or government staff, Amnesty International said.

    With fighting ongoing in Kunduz as Afghan security forces try to recapture the provincial capital, reports from local residents indicate that Taliban fighters have hidden in people’s houses to blend in with the civilian population. Government officials have also confirmed at least 16 civilian casualties, but the actual number could be much higher with the UN trying to confirm reports of at least 110 civilians killed.

    “Civilians are bearing the brunt of the horrific violence that is unfolding in Kunduz. By hiding in the residential homes Taliban fighters are exposing civilians to attacks. There are also reports of Taliban conducting house-by-house searches looking for people linked to the Afghan security forces or government,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.

    September 28, 2015

    The Taliban and Afghan security forces must ensure that civilians are protected in accordance with international law and that nobody is targeted in reprisals against their work, Amnesty International said as fighting intensifies in the northern Kunduz province.

    Heavy fighting is ongoing in Kunduz after the Taliban launched a major assault on the provincial capital this morning. There are unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties and the Taliban taking over official buildings, including a public hospital.

    “The Taliban have many times in the past showed their callous disregard for human life and civilians often suffer the brunt of their attacks. As fighting rages in Kunduz, all sides must ensure that civilians and civilian objects are protected according to international humanitarian law, which governs all parties to an armed conflict,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Deliberately targeting civilians not directly participating in hostilities, as well as indiscriminate attacks or disproportionate attacks, would amount to war crimes.”

    September 02, 2015

    The public flogging of a man and a woman by local officials in western Ghor province in Afghanistan for “adultery” is abhorrent and Afghan authorities must hold to account those responsible, Amnesty International said.

    The couple was illegally sentenced to 100 lashes by a primary court in Cheghcheran town in Ghor. One of the court’s judges later carried out the punishment in public in the presence of police and other officials on 30 August 2015, but it only came to public attention after being broadcast on Afghan TV.

    “Afghan authorities must immediately launch an investigation into this case, and ensure that all those responsible are held to account. Reports that this horrific punishment of 100 lashes was handed down by a primary court that is part of Afghanistan’s formal justice system are deeply worrying,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    June 02, 2015

    The killing of nine people, mostly humanitarian workers, in a despicable gun attack in northern Afghanistan last night is an urgent reminder of the need for authorities to increase protection for aid workers, said Amnesty International.

    The attack took place in an NGO guesthouse in the province of Balkh, Zari district, in northern Afghanistan. No-one has yet taken responsibility.

    The aid workers were part of the Czech organization People in Need, which runs rural development projects.

    “Being an aid worker in Afghanistan is an extremely risky business which will only become more dangerous if authorities fail to ensure those responsible for these disgraceful attacks face justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The latest attack must be urgently investigated and those responsible brought to justice. Anything less will send the message that aid workers are a fair target.”

    May 14, 2015

    Last night’s deadly siege in a central Kabul hotel is a stark reminder of the Taliban’s contempt for human life, which comes amid a worrying new surge in the armed group’s targeting of civilians around the country, Amnesty International said today.

    According to media reports, up to 15 civilians, including both Afghans and foreigners, were killed and more injured when gunmen stormed the Park Palace Hotel as a garden party was being held there on Wednesday evening. The hotel, located near a hospital and compounds used by aid agencies, formerly hosted United Nations staff.

    “This atrocious attack on a well-known hotel in central Kabul is a worrying sign that the Taliban’s spring offensive is in full swing, putting civilians at heightened risk of death and injury,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

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