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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs