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Afghanistan

    September 26, 2014

    By Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty International

    “Nearly every woman in Afghanistan has a painful story to tell,” says Dr Lima, an Afghan woman who decided to take action after witnessing harrowing cases of rape and violence against women in her country.

    Lima works to empower women who are at are at risk of human rights abuses in Afghanistan. She is a professional gynaecologist with a secret and dangerous sideline.
    “When I started working, I would not help people when they came to me for an abortion. I would say no,” she says.

    It was a predictable reaction in a country where abortions are illegal in the majority of circumstances, but in 2006 Lima was confronted with a story that brought home the devastating scale of the hardships faced by Afghanistan’s women. It would change her mind on the need for access to safe abortion and would lead her to offer abortion, contraception and other forms of help to women when they found themselves with nowhere to turn.

    September 03, 2014

    NATO risks leaving Afghanistan with a legacy of impunity unless the unlawful killings of civilians by international forces over more than a decade are addressed through justice and reparations, Amnesty International said ahead of a key international summit on 4-5 September in Newport, Wales.

    Among the agenda items for the NATO heads of state and government attending will be the support and training of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), who will assume full responsibility for security in the country by the end of the year.

    “With the end of the security transition just a few months away, it is a key time to address the almost total lack of accountability for civilian casualties, which is clearly unlawful and wholly unacceptable” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    August 11, 2014

    The families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released today. Focusing primarily on air strikes and night raids carried out by US forces, including Special Operations Forces, Left in the Dark finds that even apparent war crimes have gone uninvestigated and unpunished.

    “Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

    April 03, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 4 April 2014

    The modest human rights gains made over the past 12 years in Afghanistan are increasingly under threat with a resurgence of violence and women’s rights being degraded again, Amnesty International said today in an assessment of the rights record of President Hamid Karzai’s administration.

    Ahead of the presidential elections on 5 April, Amnesty International has published a scorecard that assesses the government’s performance on six key human rights issues since Karzai first assumed power in 2001.

    “Afghans will head to the polls on Saturday with the threat of violence hanging over them, but have shown they will not be intimidated. The Taliban’s promises to kill voters and election workers are beneath contempt – the authorities must make sure that polling stations and voters receive the protection they need,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    March 06, 2014

    Presidential candidates must champion, not sideline, human rights, Amnesty International said today in an agenda for change aimed at candidates campaigning ahead of the 5 April vote.

    “There have been undeniable human rights improvements in Afghanistan over the past decade, but the situation is still bleak for millions across the country. Conflict-related violations and appalling levels of violence against women and girls are just two of the issues that must top the agenda for the next administration,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Candidates cannot afford to treat human rights as a second-string issue. Any more trading away of rights in Afghanistan for short-term gain will move the country backwards rather than forwards after 2014,”

    Almost complete impunity for past human rights abuses and war crimes persists in Afghanistan. Many of those now running for president or vice-president are facing serious allegations of complicity in such crimes.

    February 17, 2014

    Amnesty International commended President Hamid Karzai’s decision not to sign the draft Criminal Procedure Code, which would have denied justice to victims of rape, domestic violence and under-aged and forced marriage. The law was a threat to progress made on women's human rights, and the President’s veto is welcome.  
     
    The draft code passed by the Afghan parliament last month included a new provision which would have prohibited relatives of the accused from testifying in criminal cases. With most cases of gender-based violence taking place in the family, this would have made successful prosecutions nearly impossible.
     
    “This is an important step against retrograde legislation that would have let rapists and perpetrators of domestic violence off the hook,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International. 
     

    February 10, 2014

    Afghanistan’s new policy to help more than 600,000 internally displaced people, many of whom live on the brink of starvation and in cramped makeshift dwellings, is a milestone, said Amnesty International. However, the organization warns that it will only succeed with sustained political and financial backing.

    The Afghan government is expected to launch on 11 February its new national policy aimed at meeting the urgent human rights and humanitarian needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), more than 100,000 of whom have fled conflict in 2013 alone.

    “Increased protection for Afghanistan’s displaced, many of whom live in desperate conditions, has been a long time coming. We applaud the government for finally pushing this crucial policy through,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    November 26, 2013

    Afghanistan’s proposed reinstatement of atrocious punishments would mark a dangerous return to legalized state brutality, Amnesty International said today as it urged the authorities to reject such plans.

    Public stoning to death, amputation of limbs and flogging are among the brutal punishments being put forward as draft amendments to the Afghan Penal Code.

    “Stoning and amputation are always torture, and so is flogging as practised in Afghanistan. All these forms of punishment are strictly prohibited under international human rights treaties which are binding on Afghanistan,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    Some of these punishments are also proposed for acts which should never be criminalized in the first place, including consensual sexual relations between adults, and choosing one’s religion.

    “When Afghanistan left behind such punishments with the ousting of the Taliban over a decade ago, it was a beacon of hope for gradual human rights reform in the country,” said Horia Mosadiq.

    November 20, 2013

    Afghan leaders meeting in Kabul this week should demand accountability for war crimes allegedly committed by US military forces in the country, said Amnesty International.

    A Loya Jirga – or national consultative assembly – starting on 21 November will debate a proposed bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the USA. If signed by both governments, the BSA will set the terms of any continuing US military presence in Afghanistan after the end of 2014. The USA is expected to maintain more than 10,000 forces as well as civilian contractors and CIA operatives in the country.

    “The proposed bilateral security agreement offers Afghans a crucial opportunity to press for greater transparency and accountability for war crimes allegedly committed by US troops,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International. 

    October 09, 2013

    The UN Security Council must ensure that the protection of civilians and the promotion of human rights lie at the heart of Afghan and international efforts in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said.

    The mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is expected to be extended until the end of 2014 on 10 October by the Security Council.

    “As the security transfer from international to Afghan forces enters its final stage, it is essential that the Afghan government, ISAF and the USA ensure that all necessary safeguards are in place to prevent and account for rising civilian casualties,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “With ISAF combat troops completing their withdrawal, their governments must continue to provide international expertise, political support and pressure, as well as financial assistance. This is crucial to secure the modest gains of the past 12 years and further advance human rights.”

    September 16, 2013

    The killing of one of Afghanistan’s most senior woman police officers is the latest setback for women’s rights in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said.

    Lieutenant Negar, 38, died on Monday morning in hospital after two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot her in the neck on Sunday near police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the capital of restive Helmand province. She had been an outspoken advocate for the protection of women who challenge the use of violence against women and girls.

    Other women in the public eye – including her predecessor, an Indian writer and two representatives of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs – have been killed in Afghanistan in the last year, and a woman MP was recently held hostage by the Taliban.

    September 10, 2013

    By Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan researcher at Amnesty's International Secretraiat in London, England

    Her body ridden with bullets and left on the outskirts of Paktika province in Afghanistan, Sushmita Banerjee’s killing was horrifying but, sadly, not surprising.

    The Indian woman had escaped captivity under the Taliban in 1995 and went on to write a book about her experiences.

    Authorities in Afghanistan now say they have arrested two men over the killing, in a move that is unusual for cases of violence against women.

    For well over a year, we have seen many reported cases of beatings, disfigurations, kidnappings and killings of women and girls across the country – particularly in rural areas.

    June 19, 2013

    Afghanistan: Talks with the Taliban must focus on justice and human rights

    Human rights, including women’s rights, must be integral to any peace deal with the Taliban said Amnesty International today as the USA announced that it was to start direct peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban armed group.

    The call comes as Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai announced that his country would boycott the peace talks unless they were “Afghan-led”, and on the heels of NATO handing over responsibility for security in the country to Afghan forces.

    The first meeting is due to take place imminently in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban have recently set up an office.
    “Any agreement with the Taliban must include clear red-line commitments that they will guarantee the rights of all Afghan women, men and children,” said Polly Truscott, deputy Asia-Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.
    “The peace process must not allow members of the Taliban or anyone else to be granted immunity from prosecution for serious human rights abuses and war crimes.”

    June 18, 2013

    Afghanistan’s security forces must do everything in their power to avoid and account for civilian casualties, Amnesty International said today as the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) handed over responsibility for maintaining security in the country.

    The organization also calls on the Afghan authorities to investigate allegations of civilian casualties amid operations carried out by Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

    “The ANSF are obliged under international law to ensure accountability for their actions and to provide remedy for civilian casualties of military action,” said Polly Truscott, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Program.

    According to UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) civilian casualties from ANSF operations increased in 2012, however ANSF leadership has been reluctant to acknowledge let alone take for responsibility for civilian casualties when they occur. Numbers of civilian casualties by ANSF may therefore be under-reported.

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