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Afghanistan

    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.

    April 13, 2015

    Following the 2001 US-led intervention to oust the Taliban regime, the Afghan government pledged to advance women’s rights. Today, despite the fall of the Taliban, women human rights defenders frequently come under attack and even face death for the work that they do. The number of women civilian casualties is increasing while overall civilian casualties are on the decline. This targeting of women--in particular those working in the public sphere and those defending women's human rights--must stop. 

    Many Afghan women human rights defenders have been killed or threatened because of their gender and because of their activities, and some have fled the country. They face intimidation and attacks by powerful and conservative elements in society, including members of the government and authorities, and the Taliban and other armed opposition groups who perceive their work as defying cultural, religious and social norms about the role of women in society. Others are threatened or attacked by family members who may be embarrassed by their outspokenness or their work.

    April 09, 2015

    The Government of Afghanistan must turn its human rights commitments from words into reality, Amnesty International said today at the conclusion of a two-day conference in Kabul on the future of human rights in the country.

    The conference, organized by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) with Amnesty International’s support, brought together around 250 people – including roughly equal numbers of women and men – from the country’s 34 provinces. Discussion focused on ways forward through the country’s major human rights challenges.

    “This is a critical and delicate time for Afghanistan with its new government and the withdrawal of international forces, and possible peace talks on the horizon amid a surge in violence from armed opposition groups,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, who addressed the conference.

    April 07, 2015

    By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women's Rights Campaigner

    Afghanistan is a dangerous place. It’s particularly dangerous for women, who all too often experience threats and violence simply because of their gender. Women in the public sphere, whether they are doctors, engineers, police officers, or politicians, are seen as stepping outside of social, cultural, and religious norms and are at particular risk. And the courageous women and men who take a stand to defend women’s human rights are at perhaps the greatest risk. The story of women human rights defenders in Afghanistan is a story of hope, courage, and resilience in the face of unspeakable tragedy.

    April 07, 2015

    Released Tuesday 7 April at 05.30am GMT (10.00am Kabul time)

    Women human rights defenders in Afghanistan who face mounting violence - including threats, sexual assault and assassinations - are being abandoned by their own government despite the significant gains they have fought to achieve, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    Their Lives On The Line documents how champions for the rights of women and girls, including doctors, teachers, lawyers, police and journalists as well as activists have been targeted not just by the Taliban but by warlords and government officials as well. Laws meant to support them are poorly implemented, if at all, while the international community is doing far too little to ease their plight.

    March 27, 2015

    Amnesty International to launch report on mounting threats and attacks on women human rights defenders in Afghanistan

    On 7 April 2015, a new Amnesty International report will document how women human rights defenders in Afghanistan are facing growing attacks and violence from all sides – Taliban, local commanders, government officials and family members.

    Institutional indifference by the Afghan authorities mean most women defenders lack adequate protection and perpetrators are almost never held to account.

    The report will be launched with a press conference in Kabul on 7 April, which will be attended by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty as well as Afghan women rights activists. Spokespeople are available in Kabul and London.

    On 8-9 April, Amnesty International will also co-organize a human rights conference in Kabul together with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

     

    December 12, 2014

    The recent wave of attacks on civilians by the Taliban and other armed groups in Afghanistan are reprehensible acts which underscore the new Afghan government’s urgent responsibility to protect the right to life, Amnesty International said today.

    The most recent assault, a suicide bombing at Isteqlal High School Theatre in Kabul on Thursday evening, killed one and injured around a dozen civilians who were watching a play. It added to the rising toll of lives lost and hundreds of injuries in armed attacks in different parts of the country in recent weeks.

    “Targeting civilians for attack is reprehensible and a clear violation of international humanitarian law, amounting to war crimes. It is crucial that those responsible are brought to justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.  

    “One of the core responsibilities of the Afghan authorities is protecting civilians against such violent attacks. The onus is now on the new administration to bolster the security response and regain the trust of the Afghan people.”

    December 03, 2014

    Afghanistan’s foreign donors should press the Afghan government to prevent a further deterioration in the country’s human rights situation and support services crucial to rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The groups issued a joint statement ahead of a major donors’ meeting on Afghanistan on December 3-4, 2014 in London. Despite the government’s important improvements in human rights, many serious abuses continue and pose a threat to the fragile gains of the past decade.

    Delegations from more than 70 countries will gather for the London Conference on Afghanistan, a follow-up to the July 2012 Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan. At that conference, both the Afghan government, then-headed by President Hamid Karzai, and international donors agreed on a “mutual accountability framework.” The London Conference will be the first such meeting under Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, and coincides with declining donor engagement in tandem with the end-2014 deadline for the withdrawal of the majority of foreign combat forces from Afghanistan.

    October 08, 2014

    The execution of five men in Afghanistan who had been convicted over a gang rape following a series of flawed trials is an affront to justice, Amnesty International said.

    Five men convicted of armed robbery and zina (sex outside marriage) in relation to the gang rape of four women in Paghman district outside of Kabul on 22 August were executed today in Pul-e-Charkhi jail. They were first sentenced to death on 7 September, a sentence later upheld in an appeals court (15 September) and by the Supreme Court (24 September), and confirmed by then-President Hamid Karzai.

    “There is no question that this was an appalling crime and the outcry and anger this case has caused is of course understandable. Amnesty International continues to campaign against rape and other sexual attacks globally and in Afghanistan. But the death penalty is not justice – it only amounts to short-term revenge,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

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