Thursday, December 03, 2009

US Must Take Responsibility for Investigating Civilian Casualties During Surge in Afghanistan

The decision by the US to send an additional 30,000 troops to war in Afghanistan was widely expected. Likewise, the Taliban response. Political debate continues over the wisdom of the US and UK escalation of the war in Afghanistan and what the 'withdrawal' or end of the surge in 2011 actually means. All this takes place in an environment where in which the US is moving to introduce a more direct model of political, as well as military, control of the country.

However, in spite of the intense level of media interest the potential impacts on Afghan civilians of US and UK policy has received less attention.

Amnesty International yesterday called for an effective mechanism for investigating civilian casualties, saying it was urgently needed.
"Amnesty International has called on the US to establish a consistent, clear and credible mechanism to investigate civilian casualties resulting from military operations after President Barack Obama said he would send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.

This is now particularly urgent due to the current lack of accountability and transparency within regular US military forces and civilian intelligence agencies, as well as private contractors..."
'Recent efforts by the US and NATO forces to minimise civilian casualties are a step forward but the US government must ensure that any troops who violate Afghan civilians' human rights are held to account.

'More US troops must not lead to more harm to Afghan civilians.'

Amnesty recognises that anti-government groups, including the Taleban, are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties and injuries in the country, but insisted that this does not diminish the responsibility to offer support to those injured by Afghan and NATO/US forces and to bring those suspected of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law to justice."
[Amnesty International]