News / Asia

Weak Government and Poor Security Blamed for Afghan Rights Situation

Gary Thomas

The U.S. government's annual human rights report calls Afghanistan's human rights record poor but says much of that is because the security situation deteriorated sharply in the past year.  But, the Afghan government continues to engage in some controversial practices.

The State Department's annual report says Afghanistan racked up a poor human rights record with extrajudicial killings, torture, restrictions on the press, and violence and discrimination against women.  

But it says that increased insurgent attacks, particularly in previously unaffected areas of the north and northeast of the country, have hampered effective government and hindered humanitarian efforts.  The report says the Taliban and other insurgent groups exploited or sometimes manufactured reports of human rights abuses for propaganda reasons.

The report notes that President Hamid Karzai's re-election last year was marred by reports of widespread vote manipulation, but falls short of calling the election fraudulent.

President Karzai recently issued a decree claiming power to name all members of the Electoral Complaints Commission which investigated the complaints of electoral fraud.

Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch says the disputed election and President Karzai's takeover of the Electoral Commission are troubling.

"This is really dirty politics, and it's not about good governance, rule of law, and it's a very worrying sign," said Brad Adams. "So I think the Electoral Commission is a big problem.  And if the U.S. doesn't come out hard on the election, then this will not be an honest report."

The Afghan parliament also recently passed a law granting members of parliament amnesty for all human rights violations committed before December 2001.

Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Michael Posner said that while both developments happened after the report was written, they are not being ignored.  But, he added, Afghanistan is in the midst of a war.

"There are real subjects here for ongoing concern," said Michael Posner. "Look, Afghanistan's in the middle of a violent conflict.  It creates all sorts of tensions.  But it is - this report and our ongoing advocacy and diplomacy in Afghanistan, is very much focused on making sure that the country begins to move in the direction of more democratic rights respecting policies and actions."

But Brad Adams claims President Karzai is no longer standing up to some of the warlords responsible for many of Afghanistan's human rights abuses.

"He did this to curry favor, it seems, with very powerful warlords in the government and in parliament and outside of government, when in the past he had been willing to confront some of them," he said. "So these two things signal, I think, that Karzai has become part of the problem, no longer a moderate and part of the solution."

The report calls corruption endemic in Afghanistan, spurred on a lack of political accountability and low salaries.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs