News / Asia

Rights Group Calls for Probes into Afghan Civilian Deaths

FILE - Relatives wrap the body of a civilian, who was killed during a clash of militants with policemen in Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan.
FILE - Relatives wrap the body of a civilian, who was killed during a clash of militants with policemen in Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Ayaz Gul

At a time in Afghanistan when the U.N. says the number of civilian deaths is increasing, human rights monitor Amnesty International is calling on the United States and allied forces to do more to investigate civilian killings by their forces. The NATO-led military coalition says it investigates all reports of civilian deaths when circumstances allow. It says ISAF-related civilian casualties are down 77 percent in the last year and that anti-government forces have caused more than 90 percent of civilian casualties this year.

In a new report released Monday, Amnesty International alleges the U.S. and allied forces have killed or injured thousands of Afghan civilians since the invasion in 2001, and left the victim families without justice.

The London-based defender of human rights says the report, titled "Left in the Dark," primarily focuses on how the United States responded when civilian casualties were reported from air strikes and night raids carried out by U.S. forces.

David Griffiths, Amnesty's deputy Asia director, says the military practically makes no effort to reach out to victims’ families.

"There are thousands of civilians who have been killed or injured since 2001 and [their families] have nowhere to turn to justice. In nine out of the ten cases that Amnesty International investigated our interviewees said that none of them had been met by military investigators who were looking into those cases," says Griffiths.

Amnesty International says the U.S. military justice system “almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses.” The group says it is aware of just six cases since 2009 where U.S. military personnel have faced trials for the killings of civilians in Afghanistan. The rights group says that international humanitarian law does not consider that every civilian death is a legal breach, but such incidents require a prompt and thorough inquiry.

The U.N. estimates that more than 12,000 Afghan civilians have died since 2009. The U.N. says about three percent of those were killed by international forces, the rest by Afghan troops or anti-government fighters such as the Taliban.

Griffiths says the report calls on the Afghan government to ensure that accountability for unlawful civilian killings is guaranteed in any future bilateral security agreements it signs with NATO and the United States.

"The government of Afghanistan also has to take responsibility in this area and we have made a recommendation to the government of Afghanistan to create a credible, independent mechanism of its own to monitor, investigate and report publicly on civilian deaths and injuries caused by Afghan forces moving forward," says Griffiths.

Amnesty says that although the United States and NATO forces in some cases have admitted civilian casualties, apologized and reportedly launched investigations, they have not provided any details on results to date.

The organization has urged the U.S. military to immediately investigate all the cases it has documented in the report along with other such incidents in which civilians have been killed.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs