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UNAMA, Human Rights


January 2010

Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009

UNAMA Human Rights United Nations



Executive Summary

I. Impact of the Armed Conflict on Civilians: 2009................................................1

II. Anti-Government Elements.................................................................................8

AGE and Civilian Casualties.......................................................................8

Suicide and IED attacks...................................................................9

Assassinations, Threats and Intimidation......................................12

III. Pro-Government Forces...................................................................................16

PGF and Civilian Casualties......................................................................16

Aerial attack...................................................................................17

Location of Military Bases............................................................. 19

Search and seizure operations........................................................ 20

Searches and attacks against medical facilities.............................. 21

Accountability/Redress.............................................................................. 22

IV. Conclusion....................................................................................................... 24

Appendices............................................................................................................. 25

Executive Summary

The intensification and spread of the armed conflict in Afghanistan continued to take
a heavy toll on civilians throughout 2009. At least 5,978 civilians were killed and
injured in 2009, the highest number of civilian casualties recorded since the fall of the
Taliban regime in 2001. Afghans in the southern part of the country, where the
conflict is the most intense, were the most severely affected. Nearly half of all civilian
casualties, namely 45%, occurred in the southern region. High casualty figures have
also been reported in the southeastern (15%), eastern (10%), central (12%) and
western (8%) regions. Previously stable areas, such as the northeast, have also
witnessed increasing insecurity, such as in Kunduz Province. In addition to a growing
number of civilian casualties, conflict-affected populations have also experienced loss
of livelihood, displacement, and destruction of property and personal assets.
UNAMA Human Rights (HR) recorded a total of 2,412 civilian deaths between 01
January and 31 December 2009. This figure represents an increase of 14% on the
2118 civilian deaths recorded in 2008. Of the 2,412 deaths reported in 2009, 1,630
(67%) were attributed to anti-Government elements (AGEs) and 596 (25%) to pro-
Government forces (PGF). The remaining 186 deaths (8%) could not be attributed to
any of the conflicting parties given as some civilians died as a result of cross-fire or
were killed by unexploded ordinance.

AGEs remain responsible for the largest proportion of civilian deaths. Civilian deaths
reportedly caused by the armed opposition increased by 41% between 2008 and 2009,
from 1,160 to 1,630. Deaths resulting from insurgent-related activities in 2009 were
a ratio of approximately three to one as compared to casualties caused by PGF. 1,054
civilians were victims of suicide and other improvised explosive device (IED) attacks
by AGEs and 225 were victims of targeted assassinations and executions. These make
up the majority of casualties caused by AGE activities and is 53% of the total number
of civilian deaths in 2009.

Together, these tactics accounted for 78% of the noncombatant
deaths attributed to the actions of the armed opposition. The remainder of
casualties caused by AGE actions resulted primarily from rocket attacks and ground
engagements in which civilian bystanders were directly affected.

Suicide and IED attacks caused more civilian casualties than any other tactic, killing
1,054 civilians, or 44% of the total civilian casualties in 2009. Although such attacks
have primarily targeted government or international military forces, they are often
carried out in areas frequented by civilians. Civilians are also deliberately targeted
with assassinations, abductions, and executions if they are perceived to be supportive
of, or associated with, the Government or the international community. A broad range
of civilians - including community elders, former military personnel, doctors,
teachers and construction workers - have been targeted. Other actors, such as the
UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also been targeted, often
receiving threats, and in some cases becoming victims of violence. Through these
actions, the armed opposition has demonstrated a significant disregard for the
suffering inflicted on civilians. Intermingling with the civilian population and the
frequent use of residential homes as bases puts civilians at risk of attack by the
Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and international military (IM) forces.

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009

Pro-Government forces - Afghan National Security Forces and International Military
(IM) forces - were responsible for 596 recorded deaths; this is 25% of the total
civilian casualties recorded in 2009. This is a reduction of 28% from the total number
of deaths attributed to pro-Government forces in 2008. This decrease reflects
measures taken by international military forces to conduct operations in a manner that
reduces the risk posed to civilians.

Notwithstanding some positive trends, actions by PGF continued to take an adverse
toll on civilians. UNAMA HR recorded 359 civilians killed due to aerial attacks,
which constitutes 61% of the number of civilian deaths attributed to pro-Government
forces. This is 15% of the total number of civilians killed in the armed conflict during
2009. IM forces and ANSF also conducted a number of ground operations that caused
civilian casualties, including a large number of search and seizure operations. These
often involved excessive use of force, destruction to property and cultural
insensitivity, particularly towards women.

UNAMA HR remains concerned at the location of military bases, especially those
that are situated within, or close to, areas where civilians are concentrated. The
location and proximity of such bases to civilians runs the risk of increasing the
dangers faced by civilians, as such military installations are often targeted by the
armed opposition. Civilians have been killed and injured as a result of their proximity
to military bases, homes and property have been damaged or destroyed; this can lead
to loss of livelihood and income. The location of military facilities in or near
residential neighborhoods has also had the effect of generating fear and mistrust
within communities and antipathy towards IM forces given their experience of being
caught in the crossfire or being the victims of AGE attacks on Government or pro-

Government military installations

International military forces did take strategic and specific steps to minimize civilian
casualties in 2009. The change in ISAF command, clearer command structures, and a
new tactical directive have all contributed to the efforts by ISAF to reduce the impact
of the armed conflict on civilians. However, a Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell, that
was established in 2008 in ISAF (with a similar tracking mechanism in USFOR-A)
has not proved very effective in addressing UNAMA concerns in a timely manner.
Measures need to be taken to improve the Tracking Cell so that it can be more
responsive and helpful in relation to civilian casualty incidents.

This report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2009 is
compiled in pursuance of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
(UNAMA) mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1868 (2009).
UNAMA Human Rights undertakes a range of activities aimed at minimizing the
impact of the conflict on civilians; this includes independent and impartial monitoring
of incidents involving loss of life or injury to civilians and analysis of trends to
identify the circumstances in which loss of life occurs.

UNAMA Human Rights officers (national and international), deployed around Afghanistan, utilize a broad range of techniques to gather information on specific cases irrespective of location or
who may be responsible. Such information is cross-checked and analyzed, with a
range of diverse sources, for credibility and reliability to the satisfaction of the Human
Rights officer conducting the investigation, before details are recorded in a dedicated

An electronic database was established in January 2009. The database is
Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009
designed to facilitate the collection and analysis of information, including
disaggregation by age and gender. However, due to limitations arising from the
operating environment, such as the joint nature of some operations and the inability of
primary sources in most instances to precisely identify or distinguish between diverse
military actors/insurgents, UNAMA HR does not break down responsibility for
particular incidents other than attributing them to “pro-Government forces” or “anti-
Government elements.”

UNAMA HR does not claim that the statistics presented in
this report are complete; it may be the case that, given the limitations in the operating
environment, UNAMA HR is under-reporting civilian casualties.

UNAMA HR information on civilian casualties is, routinely, made available,
internally and externally, to the Security Council through the UN Secretary General,
the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) UNAMA, the UN
Emergency Relief Coordinator, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights (OHCHR), and other UN mechanisms as appropriate. UNAMA Human Rights
advocates with a range of actors, including Afghan authorities, international military
forces, and others with a view to strengthening compliance with international
humanitarian law and international human rights law. It also undertakes a range of
activities on issues relating to the armed conflict, and protection of civilians with the
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the humanitarian
community, and members of civil society.

2009 was the worst year in recent times for civilians affected by the armed conflict.

UNAMA HR recorded the highest number of civilian casualties since the fall of the
Taliban regime in 2001. The conflict has intensified and spread into areas that
previously were considered relatively secure. This has resulted in increasing numbers
of civilian dead and injured and with corresponding devastation and destruction of
property and civilian infrastructure, often leading to loss of income and livelihoods.

The use of asymmetric tactics by the armed opposition is a significant factor in the
growing number of civilians who are killed and injured. The use of air strikes and the
placement of military facilities in civilian areas greatly increase the risk of civilians
being killed and injured. The United Nations calls upon all parties to the conflict to
respect and uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and
international human rights law in order to minimize the impact of the conflict upon

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009



This has been the worst year for civilian casualties since UNAMA HR began

systematically documenting these incidents in 2007. The conflict has intensified: it

has spread, affecting previously tranquil areas, such as in the northeast, and deepened

as it has moved from rural to urban areas. The continued volatile security situation as

a result of increased armed attacks, persistent fighting throughout the year, including

the winter months, cross-border infiltration of armed groups and the increase in the

number of pro-Government forces have all contributed towards an intensification of

the conflict. In addition to conducting hostilities, the Taliban has established shadow

governments in some areas, directly confronting or undermining the authority of the

Government of Afghanistan (GoA). Conflict has grown intense, particularly in the

southern regions, and impacted on some major urban areas, sharply increasing its

affects on civilians. The usual winter lull in hostilities has also largely failed to

materialize depriving civilians of any respite. The manner in which the conflict is

conducted continues to evolve including in ways that increase the risk posed to


Moreover, access to vulnerable populations continues to be challenging as growing

insecurity shrinks humanitarian space. In addition to those who are directly victimized

by incidents of warfare, resulting in death and injury, a large swathe of the population

continues to suffer the indirect and accumulated costs of armed conflict. This includes

their ability to move freely without fear or harassment and to access services essential

for their health, well-being, and education. The conflict has also taken a heavy toll on

civilians by destroying infrastructure, undermining livelihood opportunities,

displacing communities, and eroding the quality and availability of basic services.

This has often disproportionately affected vulnerable individuals, such as women,

children and the internally displaced. Armed conflict, of course, has significant

repercussions for socio-economic development efforts and exacerbates the

development deficit.

UNAMA HR recorded a total of 2,412 civilians killed over the 12 month period under

review. This figure represents an increase of 14% on the 2,118 civilian deaths

recorded in 2008. The 2009 civilian death toll is the highest of any year since the fall

of the Taliban regime in 2001. UN preliminary figures show that there is a 29.6% year

on year increase in security-related incidents, with an average of 960.3 incidents per

month as compared to 741.1 incidents per month for 2008. The elections period saw

the most pervasive violence of 2009. AGEs discouraged Afghans from voting and

were responsible for threats and assassinations against electoral candidates and staff.

Violence surrounding the 20 August Presidential and Provincial Council elections was

widespread and significant; it included, for example, two suicide attacks in Kabul on

15 and 18 August respectively and a suicide attack in Kandahar city on 25 August.

Overall, September proved to be the deadliest month, with 336 civilians killed.

Of the 2,412 civilian deaths reported in 2009, 1,630 (67%) were caused by AGEs and

596 (25%) were caused by PGF. The remaining 186 (8%) could not be attributed to

either of the conflicting parties. As in previous years, the majority of civilian

casualties occurred in the southern region of Afghanistan. However, the south-east,

east, west and central regions also reported high numbers of civilian casualties. The

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Conflict has spread into what were previously relatively tranquil areas, including the

northeast, which had previously seen limited AGE activity.

The tactics responsible for the largest number of civilian casualties during the year

were IEDs, suicide attacks, and aerial attacks (air strikes and close air support). These

attacks frequently resulted in civilian fatalities and the destruction of civilian property

and infrastructure. Often used in an indiscriminate manner, many civilians bore the

brunt of IED and suicide attacks and were killed and injured as a result. Although

AGEs continued to principally target ANSF and IM forces the placement of IEDs and

the location of suicide attacks often resulted in large numbers of civilians being killed.

Many IEDs (both remote controlled and trigger detonated) are placed along roads

heavily used by civilian vehicles and pedestrians. UNAMA HR has recorded,

moreover, a number of instances in which IEDs have been placed in crowded

residential and commercial areas, such as market places and shops. Suicide attacks

have targeted government buildings, such as Ministries and provincial ANSF

buildings that are often located in busy civilian areas.

2009 year saw a marked increase in the number of civilians who were targeted by the

AGEs as they were, apparently, perceived to support, or be associated with, the GoA,

ANSF, or IM forces. As a result, traditional tribal structures, especially in the

southern regions of Afghanistan, have been severely affected, and often undermined,

as community and tribal leaders are targeted by elements of the armed opposition.

Other civilian actors, such as humanitarian and construction workers, have also

become victims of AGE activities, including through threats, abductions, and killings.

The Taliban frequently took advantage of Pashtunwali (the traditional code of

honour), particularly in the southern regions of Afghanistan, where the traditions of

hospitality oblige the host to provide shelter and food to guests. In some cases,

insurgents have intentionally used civilians’ homes and civilians themselves as shields

from military attack in violation of international humanitarian law.1 As a result,

civilians are put at further risk as they are detained by pro-Government forces. Their

houses are searched and property destroyed because of their perceived support of the


Mullah Omar issued a new “code of conduct,” called “The Islamic Emirate of

Afghanistan Rules for Mujahideen,” in July for Afghan Taliban in the form of a book

with 13 chapters and 67 articles for distribution to Taliban forces. It called on Taliban

fighters to win over the civilian population and avoid civilian casualties, including by

limiting the use of suicide attacks to important targets and setting forth guidelines for

abductions. It is unclear whether any measures are in place to give effect to, or

monitor compliance with, this “code of conduct”.

The year saw a marked improvement, from the perspective of civilians, in the way

that pro-Government forces conducted military operations. The new command

structure is more transparent and streamlined, with COMISAF now heading both

ISAF and USFOR-A commands. The unclassified sections of the COMISAF General

McChrystal’s Initial Assessment to the US Secretary of Defence and in numerous

statements thereafter by COMISAF, noted that a future strategy should be based on a

population-centric approach, involve closer collaboration with the Afghan

government and community leaders, protect civilians and work to minimize civilian

casualties. However, with the expected surge of more than 30,000 troops, anticipated

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


To be completed by mid-2010, UNAMA HR remains concerned that the increase in

fighting could result in an increase in civilian casualties. Adherence to the Tactical

Directives and the counter-insurgency guidelines could, however, limit civilian

casualties even as fighting increases.

Throughout the year, President Karzai took a strong stance in favour of measures to

reduce civilian casualties.

He made this issue a defining feature of his relations with

the international community and the international military forces. In comments and

speeches, President Karzai repeatedly condemned civilian casualties and night

searches. In February, Karzai commented that he had “to campaign for an end to

civilian casualties and for an end to the arrest of Afghans....The Afghan people expect

their government to protect them and to stand for them.”2 Several Presidential

Commissions were established to investigate the killings and injury of civilians as a

result of IM forces’ operations. These Commissions need to ensure that their findings

are made public and that their recommendations are implemented by the GoA in a

timely manner.

Although, the overall proportion of civilian deaths attributed to pro-Government

forces has declined in recent times, air strikes remain a concern; they are responsible

for 61% of civilian deaths attributed to pro-Government forces in 2009.

UNAMA HR remains extremely concerned with the location of military bases in

populated areas, such as bazaars and district centres. This has the effect of increasing

the risk that civilians will be harmed when AGEs target international military bases

with IEDs, rockets, and suicide attacks. In line with international humanitarian law,

military bases should be placed outside residential and commercial areas in order to

minimize the effects of the conflict on civilians.

Despite considerable improvements in the procedures that regulate search and seizure

raids, there continues to be a high level of hostility towards these practices. Excessive

use of force, damage to property, and insensitivity towards cultural norms still

characterizes many of these raids. UNAMA HR continued to record a decline in

‘force protection incidents,’ whereby civilians were killed and injured because they

were too close to a military convoy or failed to follow instructions. This decline in

death and injury of civilians is a result of constructive amendments through directives

as well as an increased awareness amongst Afghan civilians.

There is a wide range of armed actors operating in Afghanistan. Many illegal armed

groups (IAGs) are still active, notwithstanding the Disarmament of Illegal Armed

Groups (DIAG) process. These IAGs have been implicated in a number of human

rights abuses within the context of the armed conflict. The Government has also made

efforts to recruit local forces, sometimes referred to as militia, to provide security in

particular communities. International military forces continue to support locallyorganized,

anti-insurgent militias. In both cases, accountability mechanisms to

respond to abuses by IAGs and local militias are extremely weak. There is no clear

command structure, transparency, nor apparent government responsibility to regulate

their activities.

In April 2009, the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries

conducted an official visit to Afghanistan and looked at, among other issues,

“questions of accountability of non-State actors, the rights of victims to an effective

remedy and the regulatory structure for private security companies.” The Working

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Group was in the process of preparing a report, for submission to the UN Human

Rights Council, at year- end.

Access to basic services continues to be severely disrupted in conflict-affected

regions. This includes the closure of schools, the intimidation of students, especially

girls, as well as staff. Clinics and patients were targeted for attack by AGEs and

searched by pro-Government forces, thus undermining their status as neutral civilian

objects. According to UNICEF, between January and November 2009, there were

613 recorded school-related incidents, as compared to 348 incidents recorded in 2008.

UNICEF notes that the southern regions have been particularly hard hit, as more than

70% of schools were closed in Helmand Province and more than 80% were closed in

Zabul Province.

Aid workers from NGOs and UN agencies have experienced harassment, threats,

intimidation and death during the year as a result of AGE activities. The environment

they were able to operate in became increasingly restricted as the conflict spread.

Truck convoys, often carrying food or aid supplies, were stopped. Drivers were often

beaten by AGEs; in a few cases they were abducted, and the goods burnt or looted.

Some international organisations have tragically been caught up in insurgent attacks,

such as the 25 August suicide attack in Kandahar that killed an ICRC staff member.

Women and children, and those who are vulnerable, face particular disadvantages in

the context of the problems associated with the armed conflict. Violence and related

insecurity greatly affects their ability to access essential services, such as education

and health care. Women and children are also victims of air strikes, house-raids,

suicide and IED attacks. These attacks often lead to deep psychological scars and

trauma; the prevailing situation inhibits access to, or creation of, productive and

helpful coping mechanisms.

One of the consequences of the deteriorating security situation is that many females

have been further confined to their homes. In a very conservative society, attacks on

women who, traditionally, have a limited public role, further inhibit their participation

in public life.

The conflict further impacts on women’s freedom of movement and

greatly restricts access to essential, life-saving services as well as education. In some

cases, UNAMA HR has noted that the risks inherent in the deteriorating security

situation influence whether women decide to participate in public life, particularly for

those who work in high-profile positions.

At least 345 children were killed due to conflict-related violence.

UNAMA HR has recorded numerous incidents were children have been affected as a result of attacks,

including air strikes, rocket attacks, IED and suicide attacks. UNAMA HR noted that

there have been reports of recruitment of children into armed groups. There were

several cases throughout the year of children being used to carry out suicide attacks or

to plant explosives, often resulting in their deaths as well as that of numerous


The detention and ill-treatment of minors allegedly associated with armed groups by

both the ANSF and the international military forces remained a concern. There have

been detailed reports of children detained for up to a year in government detention

facilities as well as reports that children have been held at the Bagram Theatre

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Internment Facility (BTIF) without due process; in some cases they allegedly suffered

ill-treatment. Mohammed Jawad, aged 12 in 2002 at the time of his arrest for

allegedly throwing a hand-grenade at a US military vehicle was eventually released in

July 2009 from Guantanamo. Jawad, during his time in detention in Afghanistan and

Guantanamo, was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to

torture according to his legal defense team. Since his release, the authorities have

failed to provide proper support for his reintegration.

Different UN and other entities continued to monitor the effects of armed conflict on

children pursuant to Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1612. A subsequent SCR,

1882, involves naming parties which are responsible for killing and maiming of

children, including those who perpetrate grave sexual violence against children in war


On 18 October, the GoA appointed a high level focal point to help address this

issue. In December, the Government committed to launch an inter-ministerial

Government Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict, with the objective

of developing an Action Plan for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.

UNAMA HR remains concerned about the situation of conflict-related detainees,

particularly those held by US forces and the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

There continues to be little or no information on the conditions and treatment of those

in detention, especially those held by NDS at the provincial level. NDS continues to

operate without a known legal framework that clearly defines its powers of

investigations, arrest, and detention and rules applicable to its detention facilities.

UNAMA HR continues to receive allegations that former detainees were subject to

ill-treatment, including torture, by NDS.

Many of the cases and incidents documented by UNAMA HR have not been

adequately investigated by the Government, so that only a few of the alleged

perpetrators have been brought to justice. Some of the law enforcement duties of the

police in Afghanistan have been adversely affected by other duties related to the

conflict. As ANP personnel routinely take on counter-insurgency duties - such as

establishing checkpoints to look for insurgents - their capacity to carry out

traditional duties of criminal investigation has been undermined. Therefore, thorough

investigations of conflict-related incidents often do not occur.

New procedures introduced for detainees held at BTIF, which was replaced with a

new detention facility established in Parwan Province at the Bagram Air Base in

December, could constitute the basis for a fairer process for detainees as well as

improved treatment and conditions. However, it is extremely important that all

detainees enjoy due process guarantees to which they are entitled under Afghan

domestic law and international human rights and international humanitarian law.

This year marked the tenth anniversary of the UN Security Council working on the

protection of civilians in armed conflict and the 60th anniversary of the Geneva

Conventions of 1949. According to the report of the UN Secretary-General on the

protection of civilians in armed conflict (May 2009), there is suffering “owing to the

fundamental failure of parties to conflict to fully respect and ensure respect for their

obligations to protect civilians.”

On 11 November, the Security Council had an Open Debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict culminating in the adoption of SCR 1894 (2009). The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, in Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Her address to the Open Debate, stressed the vital importance of redressing

grievances, ending impunity and protecting the human rights of civilians: “[T]here

continues to be an urgent need to improve overall accountability procedures,

including through criminal prosecution when warranted as redress for victims, while

bringing the legal framework governing conflict-related detention - by all who take

and hold detainees- into line with human rights law.”

The United Nations remains concerned about the high cost of the conflict on civilians.

It has repeatedly underlined, through public statements by the UNAMA SRSG, Mr

Kai Eide, that all parties should respect their obligations under international

humanitarian law and international human rights law. Actions by all parties to the

armed conflict must be transparent and accountable to ensure the least possible

adverse impact upon the civilian population. Equally, all those who perpetrate abuses

against the civilian population, in transgression of their obligations under the rules of

war and national legislation, should be held to account in a timely and transparent


Chart 1: Reported civilian casualties Jan - Dec 2009





Anti-Government Elements (1630) Pro-Government Forces (596)

Responsible party undetermined (186)

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Chart/Table 2: Total number of civilians reported killed as a result of armed

conflict in Afghanistan, 2007, 2008, and 2009









Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec




Month 2007 2008 2009

January 50 56 141

February 45 168 149

March 104 122 129

April 85 136 128

May 147 164 271

June 253 172 236

July 218 323 198

August 138 341 333

September 155 162 336

October 80 194 162

November 160 176 165

December 88 104 164

TOTAL 1523 2118 2412

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009




AGEs and Civilian Casualties

AGE activities have taken the heaviest toll on civilians. Civilian deaths reportedly

caused by anti-Government elements totaled 1,630 in 2009; this represents an increase

of 41% from 2008 and accounts for 67% of the total number of civilian deaths in


Suicide and other attacks involving IEDs continued to claim the most civilian lives in

2009 with an overall toll of 1,054 killed. 225 civilians were killed as a result of

targeted assassinations and executions. Together, these tactics accounted for over 78%

of the civilian deaths attributed to AGE actions. The remainder of AGE-inflicted

casualties resulted primarily from rocket attacks and from ground engagements in

which civilian bystanders were directly affected.

Chart 3: Civilian Deaths Attributed to AGEs disaggregated by incident type




22% IED Attacks (773)

Suicide Attacks (281)

Executions and

Assassinations (225)

Other AGE Tactics (351)

Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, 2009


Chart 4: Civilian Deaths Attributed to AGEs - 2007, 2008, 2009









Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec




Suicide and IED attacks

IEDs and suicide attacks accounted for more civilian casualties than any other tactic,
and the number of civilians killed increased dramatically since 2008 by 45%. IEDs
planted by AGEs accounted for 773 civilian deaths (47% of all civilians killed by
AGEs) and suicide attacks accounted for 281 civilian deaths (17% of all civilians
killed by AGEs) in 2009.

Since the intensification of the insurgency in 2006, there has been a gradual but
continual shift by AGEs towards the use of asymmetric attacks, such as IEDs and
suicide attacks. Too often, these attacks are carried out in a manner that fails to
discriminate between civilians and military targets or to take adequate precautions to
prevent civilian casualties. Thus, they have an impact far beyond their initial target.
August and September proved to be the year’s most deadly periods of insurgent
activity, with the detonation of multiple SVBIEDs (car and truck bombs).

• On 15 August, seven civilians were reportedly killed and at least 90 injured in
suicide bomb blast outside ISAF HQ in Kabul;

• On 18 August, seven people were reportedly killed and at least 50 injured in an
SVBIED attack near Camp Phoenix on the Jalalabad Road in Kabul. In this
explosion, two UN staff members were killed and one injured; and

• On 25 August, at least 46 civilians were allegedly killed and more than 60 injured
when a truck bomb exploded in a commercial and residential area of Kandahar
city. The explosion destroyed several commercial buildings and left a large
number of families homeless. It is understood that the SVBIED exploded
prematurely before reaching its intended target, apparently the National
Directorate of Security. While the Taliban issued a statement denying
involvement in the incident, no other local actor is known to use car bombs of this

In September, a number of SVBIED attacks resulted in 24 civilians killed and 52
injured: on 17 September, an attack on an ISAF convoy on the road to the Kabul
International Airport, allegedly killed 20 civilians and injured 45 others. The Taliban
acknowledged responsibility. On 8 and 9 September respectively attacks against the
front gates of the ISAF military airport at Kabul International Airport and an attack in
front of Camp Bastion in Helmand reportedly resulted in the death of four civilians
and seven injured.

Although the vast majority of suicide attacks target ANSF or IM forces, their use in
residential areas means that, frequently, civilians are the victims of such attacks.
Moreover it is of great concern that AGEs frequently feign civilian status while
conducting suicide and other attacks, making it difficult for pro-Government forces to
distinguish between civilians and fighters.3

Twin explosions leading to civilian casualties in Khost

On 22 June, at least 10 civilians died and 41 were injured as a result of two
explosions in Khost city. Reportedly, among the casualties, at least two children,
between 9 and 17 years, were killed and at least 11 children were injured. The
incident occurred around one o’clock between a GoA department and a Mosque,
close to the market area. The first blast, near to the GoA department, resulted from a
hand grenade, attracting a crowd of people, and was followed shortly afterward by a
second explosion. The authorities believe that the attack was conducted by the
Haqqani network.

AGEs have also undertaken a number of “complex attacks” involving multiple, well
coordinated teams, including individuals equipped as suicide bombers and others
armed with a range of weapons, including grenades. These frequently target
government buildings where civilians are often present. Three complex attacks carried
out in Gardez and Jalalabad on 21 July, and in Khost on 25 July on government and
security forces’ installations, reveal well-planned and sophisticated operations. On 28
October, a complex attack was launched against a guest house in Kabul, resulting in
the deaths of eight civilians, including five UN personnel and injury to at least nine
others. The attack was well organized and executed, and included the use of multiple
suicide bombers, hand grenades, and small-arms fire. Although, the Taliban claimed
responsibility for the attack, it appears to have been carried out by members of the
Haqqani network.

Complex attack against multiple government buildings in Kabul

The coordinated attack against the Ministry of Justice Central Prison Directorate
HQ, the Ministry of Education and NDS in Kabul on 11 February resulted in at least
21 civilians killed, including 13 staff from the Ministry of Justice. At least 14 staff
from the MoJ was injured. In this incident, UNAMA HR received reports that several
of the civilians were deliberately singled out for attack and shot, despite clearly being
non-combatants. In a statement, the Taliban claimed the attack was in retaliation for
the mistreatment of detainees in Afghan detention facilities, the execution of several
Taliban members in November 2008, and the shooting of a number of Taliban during
an operation in the Pul-i-Charkhi Prison in December 2008.

Attacks against NDS officials and facilities by AGEs were often disproportionate to
the intended target, resulting in the deaths and injury of numerous civilians.

The Deputy Head of NDS targeted by an SVBIED

On 2 September, an SVBIED attack in Laghman Province targeted and killed the
Deputy Head of NDS, and four other NDS staff, as they were exiting a meeting at the
Central City Mosque, in Mehterlam City in Laghman Province. The Mosque is
situated near a busy bazaar. As a result, the explosion reportedly killed 18 civilians
and injured 61 others, including women and children. The Taliban claimed
responsibility for the attack. Following an investigation, four people were
subsequently arrested by the provincial authorities. On 31 December, around 1000-
1200 people demonstrated in the city calling for the government impose the harshest
sentence against the accused.

IEDs were used more often than any other AGE tactic. Their use was often systematic
and indiscriminate resulting in high casualty rates, particularly in the south and south
east regions. In Khost Province, a trend of using magnetic IEDs that adhere to the
outside of a vehicle was detected, particularly in a string of attacks in June that
resulted in three civilians killed and injury to numerous others. In a press statement,
the Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General (DSRSG), UNAMA,
condemned the indiscriminate use of IEDs in Maywand district of Kandahar during
the month of September and appealed to those responsible to desist from such actions.

Civilian vehicles using an alternative route to the main highway, because damage to
the main road had made it unusable, were struck by IEDs, killing a total of some 37
civilians and injuring at least 18 others, including women and children. This included
a 29 September incident when at least 30 civilians were reportedly killed and 19
injured when their bus struck an IED.

AGEs have also perpetrated IED and suicide attacks in residential areas. As noted in a
recent report by a consortium of NGOs,4 the indiscriminate use of IEDs, particularly
in residential areas, caused civilians to experience feelings of trauma. The same study
found that “there was a clear link between fear and anxiety, and insecurity associated
with the current conflict.” These effects can be long lasting, creating a climate of fear
and often result in reduced mobility and restricted access to basic services by the

Assassinations, Threats and Intimidation

UNAMA HR recorded 225 reported assassinations and executions by AGEs. Armed
opposition groups have continued to show a great willingness to systematically target
civilians through threats, intimidatory tactics, abductions and executions; in some
cases by beheadings and hanging.

Persons were most often assassinated or executed due to AGE suspicions that the
targeted individuals had acted as informants or “spies” for the GoA or IM forces; for
working with the IM forces as interpreters, truck drivers or security guards at military
bases; for actively supporting the Government; or for belonging to the ANSF. The
majority of assassinations took place in the south, southeast and central regions of

There are a number of ways in which AGEs identified their targets. It was not
uncommon for road blocks and checkpoints to be established by armed groups in
order to search cars for civilians carrying identity papers which indicated where
individuals work. Civilians were harassed as a consequence and, in a few cases, were
killed. These searches have taken place in the south, southeast, west, central and east
of the country. “Night letters” were used to warn entire communities against engaging
in particular activities and to threaten specific individuals. Many such letters warned
people that failure to stop working with the government or the international
community would lead to “retribution”.

Such threats create a climate of fear and intimidation. In cases documented by UNAMA HR, individuals who had been abducted and killed were sometimes found with a letter attached to their body as a warning to others. These tactics point to a systematic campaign to intimidate and
undermine support for the government and international forces in Afghanistan. These
campaigns of intimidation can oblige individuals and entire communities to alter or
restrict their usual activities, giving rise to untold hardship, including loss of income.

Distribution of leaflets by AGEs in Farah Province

On 17 June, a number of leaflets were found distributed around the mosques in Farah
town threatening people not to work either for the government or the international

UN Afghanistan report: UN blames Terrorists for Civilian Casualties - Unlike Standards Used For Israel

by David Bedein

A little-noticed “United Nations’ Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict”, issued in January, which absolved allied coalition forces of culpability for civilian casualties in the almost decade long war against Taliban terror groups in Afghanistan.

According to the report issued by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least “5,978 civilians were killed and injured in 2009, the highest number of civilian casualties recorded since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.”

The United Nations report asserted that the rising death toll there was due to the Taliban terror group’s suicide attacks and explosive roadside devices placed by the Taliban.

he UN report explained that the Taliban frequently attacked coalition forces in densely populated areas and did not blame the United States army or its allies for deaths of civilians who were non combatants who live near the areas from where Taliban launched its attacks, using the civilian areas as a collective human shield.

The UN Afghanistan report stands in stark contrast to a recent report issued by a United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s investigative team, headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, which conducted an inquiry into Israel’s January 2009 three week military incursion into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The Goldstone Report discussed “eleven incidents in which Israeli forces launched direct attacks against civilians with lethal outcome... in which the facts indicate no justifiable military objective pursued by the attack.” These UN allegations of war crimes by the Israeli Defense Forces have been vociferously protested by Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone so far as to call the Goldstone report a “strategic threat,” saying that it hampers the ability of democracies to fight terrorism and to engage in asymmetrical warfare.

A senior Israeli government official said that Israel is held to a different standard than other countries in international forums.

In direct contrast to the Goldstone Report from the same United Nations, the UN holds the Taliban terrorists directly responsible for collateral deaths in Afghanistan, at the same time that the UN alleges that Israel engages in “intentional attacks against the civilian population and civilian objects,” even though Hamas terrorists openly use homes, schools, hospitals and mosques as their protective place of operation.

Unlike Afghanistan, the UN blames Israel - not Hamas - for collateral deaths, injuries and damage to non combatants. The United Nations even suggests that Israel must award reparations to the population of the Gaza Strip, a territory ruled by an internationally recognized terrorist organization.

The United Nations Afghanistan report, on the other hand, noted that coalition forces have been attempting to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, saying that “International military forces did take strategic and specific steps to minimize civilian casualties in 2009,”

In summarizing its findings, the Afghanistan Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict found the “declared strategy of prioritizing the safety and security of civilians is a welcome development.”

By the same token, the report laid the blame on the Taliban for causing Afghan civilian deaths,
Drawing the conclusion that “the inability or unwillingness of the armed opposition to take measures that pre-empt and reduce the harm that their tactics entail for civilians translates into a growing death toll and an ever larger proportion of the total number of civilian dead.”

Significantly, more non-combatants have been injured or killed in Afghanistan by allied troops than by IDF forces in Gaza.

A former British commander in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, told the BBC that he did “not think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more effort to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the [Israel Defense Forces] is doing... in Gaza."

However, a career diplomat with years of experience at the United Nations, noted that it is no surprise that the United Nations uses a different standard to judge Israel. The diplomat mentioned that the UN defined the Sri Lankan-Tamil conflict as an “internal matter”, and that the UN turned a blind eye to the brutal tactics used by the Sri Lankan army, when it finally crushed the 25 year Tamil terrorist rebellion only last year, causing the deaths of thousands of terrorists and non combatants who were slaughtered by Sri Lankan Government forces in the final stages of the conflict.

View the original link at Israel Behind the News

Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan

Report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and on the achievements of technical assistance in the field of human rights*



The present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 2/113 of 27 November 2006, describes the current human rights situation in Afghanistan and ongoing concerns, and contains recommendations to address them.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. The adoption of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) in 2008 serves as the country’s poverty reduction strategy in which human rights are largely treated as a question of civil and political rights; the challenge now is to give greater attention to the human rights dimensions of economic and social development.

The escalation of the armed conflict in Afghanistan has had a significant impact on civilians in conflict-affected areas, in particular on those who are already vulnerable. The intensifying conflict has also resulted in a disturbing rise in civilian casualties and has contracted the space for humanitarian action. Long-standing discrimination against women and minority groups is manifest in their lack of access to justice and other basic services. Important gains made recently by women in the public sphere are in danger of receding. Mounting attacks on the freedom to express views that challenge existing power structures as well as social and religious norms that usually marginalize women cast doubts on the Government’s ability to ensure a free and democratic space where human rights are fully respected. This is especially vital in an elections period. While important initiatives to reform the justice sector and improve the administration of justice were launched in 2008, the judicial system remains weak, corrupt and dysfunctional, and at times does not comply with international human rights obligations. Compounded by a surge in criminal violence and decline of public law enforcement authorities control over parts of the country, a culture of impunity prevails as demonstrated by the failure to prosecute perpetrators for past and contemporary human rights violations and abuses. A/HRC/10/23 page 3


Paragraphs Page

I. INTRODUCTION............................................................................ 1 - 7 4

II. POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.............................................. 8 - 12 5

III. PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS...................................................... 13 - 26 6

A. Anti-Government elements...................................................... 15 - 18 6

B. International and national security forces................................ 19 - 21 7

C. Humanitarian access................................................................. 22 - 24 7

D. Conflict-related detention......................................................... 25 - 26 8

IV. DISCRIMINATION......................................................................... 27 - 37 9

A. Violence against women and access to justice......................... 29 - 32 9

B. Threats to women in public life................................................ 33 10

C. Minority groups........................................................................ 34 - 37 10

V. IMPUNITY...................................................................................... 38 - 49 11

A. Transitional justice................................................................... 38 - 43 11

B. Impunity and abuse of power................................................... 44 - 49 12

VI. DEFICITS IN DEMOCRACY......................................................... 50 - 58 13

A. Freedom of expression............................................................. 50 - 54 13

B. Elections................................................................................... 55 - 58 14

VII. INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY...................................................... 59 - 65 15

A. Administration of justice.......................................................... 59 - 63 15

B. The National Human Rights Institution................................... 64 - 65 16

VIII. TECHNICAL COOPERATION...................................................... 66 - 68 16

IX. CONCLUSION................................................................................ 69 - 70 17

X. RECOMMENDATIONS................................................................. 71

A/HRC/10/23 page 4 I. INTRODUCTION

1. This report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 2/113 of 27 November 2006 and has been prepared in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Since the last report by the High Commissioner, Afghans have continued to suffer significant rights deficits that pose serious challenges to the enjoyment of their human rights and to the country’s long-term prospects for peace, stability, democracy, development and the rule of law.

2. Gross human rights violations remain a serious threat to continuing efforts to transform Afghan society. A culture of impunity prevails, and is deeply entrenched; this is manifested in the lack of political will to advance the transitional justice process to address past abuses as well as the absence of accountability for current human rights violations. Coupled with a weak, corrupt and dysfunctional judicial system, and wide recourse to traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms that do not comply with due process requirements, justice is effectively denied to the vast majority of Afghans.

3. In November 2008, the High Commissioner expressed concern regarding the resumption of the death penalty in Afghanistan, noting that law enforcement and judicial systems in the country fall short of internationally accepted standards guaranteeing due process and a fair trial.

4. The escalation of the armed conflict during 2008 has resulted in a substantial rise in the toll of civilian casualties and further erosion of the humanitarian space. Although certain measures have been taken to mitigate the impact of military operations, the limited ability of Afghan and other authorities to address the protection needs of at-risk civilians in war-affected areas remains a major concern. Not only does the conflict have a disproportionate impact on those who are vulnerable, but the deteriorating situation has undermined the people’s confidence in the Government and hampered its ability to meet its human rights obligations, such as the provision of basic services, including security.

5. The political space to express dissenting political and other views has also been contracting during the reporting period. Ongoing attacks on freedom of expression, particularly in relation to media and human rights activists, are intrinsically linked to abusive power structures and deeply entrenched impunity. This pattern is all the more disquieting as elections are scheduled to take place in Afghanistan in 2009.

6. Other long-standing human rights problems in Afghanistan have not been adequately addressed. The deep-rooted discrimination against and marginalization of women and girls and of certain minorities, extreme poverty and patterns of social and economic development that do not address inequalities, continue to challenge entitlements to human rights such as health, food, water and sanitation, education, shelter and a means of livelihood.

7. The adoption at the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan, held in June 2008 in Paris, of Afghanistan’s poverty reduction strategy paper, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), generated renewed momentum, in particular amongst donors, to assist the Government in its endeavor to address some endemic problems, such as poverty and marginalization, but these efforts would be strengthened by greater attention to the human rights dimensions of economic and social development. A/HRC/10/23 page 5


8. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a poverty rate of 42 per cent. Another 20 per cent of Afghans are situated slightly above the poverty line, indicating a very high level of vulnerability.

9. Abusive power structures, weak governance, discrimination and marginalization contribute to alarming levels of poverty that impoverish the lives of millions of Afghans; 61 per cent of the population is said to be vulnerable to food insecurity. Serious drought, resulting in a poor harvest, as well as high prices for staple foods means that the right to food and to the highest attainable standard of health, especially among poor households, is being severely impacted. Afghanistan has deep inequities in the distribution of its wealth, and productive resources are concentrated in the hands of a few. Three decades of conflict have left vulnerable groups with limited or no access to land or to livelihoods or even basic social services, and subject to exploitation by those in power. A human rights analysis is crucial to the success of poverty reduction initiatives, particularly in regard to the factors that affect decision-making and resource allocation.

10. A positive step in 2008 was the adoption of the country’s poverty reduction strategy paper, ANDS, which is also the vehicle to implement the Afghanistan Compact benchmarks. It was approved in June 2008 at the Paris Conference, during which donors indicated their commitment to assist the Government. To succeed as a poverty reduction strategy, all stakeholders, including the poor, must participate in its implementation, monitoring and evaluation. ANDS generally frames human rights in civil and political terms only and fails to identify the Government’s obligations under the various treaties it has ratified. As the design stage is now complete, efforts need to be made so that human rights are duly taken into consideration in the implementation phase, particularly regarding economic and social development. Most sector strategies inadequately define how the situation of vulnerable groups will be addressed. Moreover, the poor will not benefit unless the requisite budgetary allocation is dedicated for essential service delivery to the most vulnerable sectors of society.

11. Given that all United Nations agencies will be involved in supporting the implementation of the ANDS, they should be encouraged to adopt the human rights-based approach (HRBA) to development as an efficient tool to address the needs of the people through the prism of rights and to support the efforts of the Government in meeting its obligations. As part of the ANDS implementation process, most provinces have adopted a Provincial Development Plan (PDP) to implement the objectives of ANDS. As part of the preparations for the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) process, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) piloted, with the support of UNAMA and the United Nations Action 2 Global Secretariat, a project in the provinces of Bamyan and Dai Kundi, which focused on the human rights dimension of poverty and how the implementation of ANDS could be used as a tool to facilitate the realization of human rights. Through HRBA and capacity-building activities, interest has been catalysed among all participating provincial development partners, including provincial government officials, civil society, and international development actors. This is particularly so for the value of HRBA in achieving sustainable development, improving aid coordination and effectiveness and mobilizing adequate resources for provinces that receive less attention because of their relative stability. A/HRC/10/23 page 6

12. As noted in the report of the High Commissioner to the seventh session of the Council (A/HRC/7/27), an important initiative toward meeting the commitments set out in the Afghanistan Compact is the establishment, with the support of OHCHR, of a human rights unit within the Ministry of Justice. I am glad to note that the Government has identified the creation of this unit as a key step towards delivering on its commitments under the Compact with respect to human rights.


13. The armed conflict intensified significantly throughout 2008 with a corresponding rise in civilian casualties and a significant erosion of humanitarian space. UNAMA recorded a total of 2,014 civilian casualties between 1 January and 30 November 2008. This figure represents an increase of over 41 per cent on the deaths recorded in the same period in 2007. This makes the 2008 civilian death toll the highest of any year since the end of major hostilities after the fall of the Taliban regime at the end of 2001. In addition, civilians have suffered from injury, destruction of property and loss of livelihood, displacement, and disruption of access to education, health care and other essential services.

14. Of the 2,014 casualties reported, 1,106 (55 per cent) were allegedly caused by insurgents, 795 (39 per cent) by pro-Government forces and the remaining 113 (6 per cent) could not be attributed to either of the parties because, for example, some civilians died as a result of crossfire or were killed by unexploded ordnance. The majority of civilian casualties occurred in the south of Afghanistan, but high casualty figures have also been reported in the south-eastern, eastern, central and western regions.

A. Anti-Government elements

15. A large proportion of the overall increase in civilian casualties is due to insurgent actions. While it appears that the majority of suicide attacks have been directed against military or government targets, attacks are frequently carried out in crowded civilian areas with an apparent disregard for the safety of non-combatants. Throughout 2008, insurgents have shown an increasing willingness to inflict harm on civilians in such attacks.

16. The tactics of anti-Government elements also involve the direct targeting of civilians. Threats, intimidation and violence directed against individuals seen to be linked to the Government or the international community have intensified throughout the year.

17. Victims of such tactics include doctors, teachers, students, tribal elders, civilian government employees, former police and military personnel, and labourers involved in public-interest construction work. In several instances women, especially those in public life, have been singled out for attack. Substantial evidence exists that tactics used by insurgents point to a systematic campaign of violence and intimidation. There were 227 reported assassinations by insurgents up to October 2008; many of these were public executions. In October 2008, for example, 27 unarmed passengers allegedly linked to the Afghan National Security Forces were executed by insurgents in an attack on a bus in Kandahar. A/HRC/10/23 page 7

18. There is also an increasingly high number of reported abductions and of threats targeting individuals linked to the Government or the international community. Such incidents appear to be spreading into areas previously seen as relatively calm, such as the North. There have been reports of threats against personnel, and forced closure of facilities and services in both health and education sectors, affecting hundreds of thousands civilians, in particular women and children. This campaign of intimidation severely impacts on the civilian population beyond those specifically targeted, instilling widespread fear and insecurity.

B. International and national security forces

19. Civilian casualties attributable to the Government of Afghanistan and international security forces are almost 33 per cent higher than the 559 reported in the same period in 2007. This increase occurred notwithstanding various measures to reduce the impact of the conflict on civilians, including internal as well as independent external investigations, after-action reviews, and the creation of mechanisms for reviewing trends and reducing the impact of war on civilians. Air attacks remain by far the most deadly tactic used by pro-Government forces. There is an urgent need to improve overall accountability procedures and the pro-Government forces’ response to incidents of civilian casualties.

20. Air strikes present a particular threat to civilians unable to leave their homes and villages when fighting breaks out. There have been several high-profile incidents in which air strikes supporting combat operations by national and international forces led to a large number of dead civilians including numerous women and children. One such air strike in Shindand district in Herat Province in August 2008 resulted, reportedly, in 92 civilian casualties, including 62 children. In July 2008, an air strike on a wedding party resulted in 47 dead including 30 children, the majority of them girls. In November 2008 an air strike in Shah Wali Kot of Kandahar Province killed some 35 civilians and injured a further 37.

21. Practices regarding search-and-seizure operations, including night-time raids, have to some extent been adjusted to address repeatedly voiced concerns. Yet, serious issues remain, in particular regarding a number of joint Afghan and international operations in which excessive use of force has allegedly involved severe misconduct and in some cases resulted in the deaths of civilians.

C. Humanitarian access

22. As the conflict has intensified, humanitarian space has shrunk considerably. Large parts of the South, East and Central regions of Afghanistan are described in military circles as an “extreme risk” or a “hostile environment”. Aid organizations and their staff have been subjected to a growing number of direct attacks, threats and intimidation.

23. Until the end of October 2008, 130 aid workers (124 national, 6 international) were kidnapped and a total of 38 aid workers were killed. Some highly publicized incidents have included an ambush on an International Rescue Committee vehicle in Logar Province in August 2008 in which three female international aid workers and their Afghan driver died and A/HRC/10/23 page 8

for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. In September 2008, there was a suicide attack on a United Nations convoy in Spin Boldak in which two World Health Organization doctors involved in the polio-eradication campaign and one UNAMA driver were killed.

24. Insurgents have also targeted private transport companies and construction workers. According to the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an umbrella group of non-governmental organizations, the situation has “forced many aid agencies to restrict the scale and scope of their development and humanitarian operations”. This effectively means that women and children as well as vulnerable people in need of assistance are unable to realize their right to receive life-saving humanitarian support and basic social services, including health and education in particular for girls. In this regard, it is essential to clarify the scale and nature of the humanitarian case load in order to identify those who are most in need of assistance.

D. Conflict-related detention

25. The situation of persons arrested and detained in relation with the conflict remains of concern, in particular in view of the legal uncertainties regarding the basis for their continued detention. Detention of persons by international military forces in their operations is governed by the following rules: they may hold detainees for only 96 hours; the International Committee of the Red Cross must be informed; after 96 hours, detainees are to be either released or transferred to the Afghan authorities, generally, the National Department of Security (NDS). Some countries have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with the Government regulating the transfer of such detainees and have obtained diplomatic assurances regarding their treatment, including that no transferee will be subject to the death penalty. The MoUs are not identical, but all provide for diplomatic representatives of that country, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to have access to transferred detainees. There is however little information on the conditions and treatment of such detainees. NDS continues to operate without a public legal framework clearly defining its powers of investigation, arrest and detention, and rules applicable to its detention facilities. UNAMA has received complaints from individuals previously detained by NDS that they were tortured. The treatment of detainees by NDS, including those transferred from international military forces’ control, raises questions concerning responsibility of the relevant troop contributing countries under principles of international humanitarian and human rights law.

26. Individuals detained by Operation Enduring Freedom are held in a detention facility in Bagram Airbase governed by United States Department of Defense Directives. Detainees have no right to legal counsel or to trial before a court established by law and their status as combatants is to be determined by the Enemy Combatant Review Board. If qualified as an “enemy combatant”, detainees can only be released through the National Reconciliation Programme, transferred to the Ministry of Defense for prosecution by the Government of Afghanistan. Nationals of third countries are allegedly transferred to Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. Some individuals have reportedly been in detention at Bagram for as long as five years and some have allegedly been subjected to torture. According to former detainees at Bagram, there are approximately 630 detainees held there. ICRC has access to detainees, while UNAMA does not. At the end of 2008, Bagram authorities agreed to permit visitation rights to the relatives of certain detainees. A/HRC/10/23 page 9


27. Equal rights for women and men are enshrined in the Constitution of Afghanistan which, moreover, obliges the Government to respect international human rights laws and standards, including its obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women ratified in 2003.

28. A National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) was adopted in May 2008. Its implementation is considered an important benchmark for the promotion of gender equality within the 2006 Afghanistan Compact. ANDS recognizes gender as a cross-cutting issue and seeks to establish “greater gender equality by eliminating discrimination”. The reduction of women’s vulnerability to violence in both domestic and public life, and improved access to gender sensitive justice systems are key objectives of the ANDS.

A. Violence against women and access to justice

29. The Government is failing to adequately protect the rights of women in Afghanistan despite constitutional guarantees and its international obligations. While women have made important advances in the spheres of education, employment and political participation in the post-Taliban regime years, they continue to confront discriminatory laws, attitudes and practices. Of particular concern is the long history of violence against women and girls which impacts on their private and public lives. This violence is widespread and deeply rooted in conservative religious and traditional values in Afghan society whereby women’s second-class status is perpetuated as a result of systemic and systematic discrimination. Violence is tolerated or condoned within the family and community, within traditional and religious leadership circles as well as the formal and informal justice systems. The plight of women is exacerbated by growing lawlessness that can be attributed, partly, to the pervasive climate of impunity.

30. Violence against women and children and harmful traditional practices manifest themselves in various forms, such as rape, “honour killings”, early and forced marriage, sexual slavery (in particular when girls are given away in marriage to settle family debts or disputes), sexual abuse in detention, and female victims of violence criminalized by the justice system. Much of this violence is perpetrated within the family; however, local power-brokers, the formal and traditional justice systems, the police and prison authorities also play their part in reinforcing social control over women and in condoning such violence.

31. The rape of women and children remains widespread though its true extent is concealed by underreporting. Most perpetrators continue to go unpunished. Nevertheless, there are signs of increasing willingness on the part of victims to report rape, and of the authorities to investigate and prosecute some cases. A number of high-profile cases during 2008 again brought the problem of rape to public attention; this may contribute to removing the social stigma attached to rape and the problems faced by rape victims. In August 2008 the President called for “rapists to face the country’s most severe punishment”. This followed public outrage and demands for justice after a 12-year-old girl was raped in Sari Pul province. In this particular instance, an official inquiry led to the dismissal of several officials from their posts. Around the same time, A/HRC/10/23 page 10

however, it came to light that two men, convicted by the Supreme Court of the gang rape in 2005 of a woman in Samangan province, had been released under a presidential pardon in April 2008. UNAMA expressed its grave concern that this pardon would send the negative message that perpetrators of violent crimes against women would not be held accountable.

32. Female victims of violence continue to have limited access to justice and effective redress mechanisms. Customary justice systems are only accessed by women accompanied by a male relative. The formal law enforcement and judicial systems still lack trained and qualified female officials in the police, courts and the legal profession. Services such as legal aid, social work, counselling and shelters are often inadequate. Women and girls continue to be prosecuted and detained for acts which do not constitute crimes under Afghan law. Thus, victims of sexual abuse find themselves criminalized under the offence of zina (consensual sex outside marriage) and victims of forced marriage are often prosecuted for the offence of “running away”. Failure to develop and implement appropriate legislation and policies to protect victims results in systematic re-victimization in the justice system. While some children and women are taken into custody for their alleged protection, it is apparent that there is no procedure for addressing these cases and for ensuring that the deprivation of liberty is used as last resort. Corruption has been cited as a further obstacle to obtaining justice, such as the influence of local power brokers or the payment of bribes by perpetrators to evade prosecution. Reform of the criminal justice system is therefore vital if the legal framework for protecting the rights of women is to be strengthened.

B. Threats to women in public life

33. Threats and intimidation against women in public life or who work outside the home have seen a dramatic increase. Most employment opportunities for women are found in government and international organizations, where they are increasingly targeted by anti-Government elements and to a lesser extent by their own families or communities as well as male colleagues. Department of Women’s Affairs representatives, members of the National Assembly and Senate as well as Provincial Councils, police, lawyers and journalists, and women working for national and international NGOs, have all reported harassment, including death-threat letters and phone calls. While it appears that different elements of the armed opposition are chiefly responsible for such attacks, it is not always clear whether women are specifically targeted as such, or as part of a more general campaign of intimidation against those working for the Government and international community or who are in favour of women’s rights. Many women in public life have been forced to curtail their activities or abandon their jobs, lacking confidence that the authorities are able or willing to provide them with protection. The assassination of the most prominent national female senior police officer, in Kandahar in September 2008, underscores the tremendous risks faced by women in public life.

C. Minority groups

34. The Constitution recognizes the principle that no individual or group should be discriminated against on the basis of their sex, ethnicity, tribe, religion or language. Afghanistan has four major ethnic groups: Pashtun, Hazara (Shia minority), Tajik and Uzbek, in addition to a myriad of other minorities based on tribal, linguistic and cultural differences, as well as small Hindu and Sikh religious minorities. A/HRC/10/23 page 11

35. The Kuchis, or nomads, whose population is estimated at over 5 million by the Independent Directorate for the Affairs of the Kuchis (IDAK), are a social minority that has faced enduring discrimination. Their traditional livelihood is nomadic herding, although many now lead a semi-nomadic existence or have settled in communities. Some of the main challenges faced by Kuchis include access to pasture land, and basic services such as health care, education and employment. It is understood that in some provinces they have also been denied identity cards by the local authorities.

36. The rights of Kuchis are guaranteed under article 14 of the Constitution which obliges the Government to implement effective programmes to “improve economic, social and living conditions” of the Kuchis and to adopt measures for the “provision of housing and distribution of public estates to deserving citizens”. However, IDAK estimates that only 30 per cent of Kuchis have received their identity cards and are thus registered as citizens. Kuchis have been allocated 10 seats (7 for men and 3 for women) in the National Assembly (as they are predominantly Pashtun, this is also seen as benefiting one group with a higher percentage of seats). Without citizenship, the majority is unable to register to vote. A third measure, a 2007 Presidential Decree, granted the Kuchis the right to acquire 10 per cent of municipal housing and it allocated land to settled Kuchi communities. The slow and patchy implementation of this policy points to the gap between legal guarantees and their accomplishment.

37. The disruption of their nomadic lifestyle through conflict and drought, as well as a lack of clear government policy on land tenure and pasture rights, has brought the Kuchis into conflict with settled communities over access to land and resources. The Government has been unable to resolve a long-standing dispute between the Kuchis and settled Hazara populations over access to pasture lands in parts of the Central Region and Central Highlands. This year again witnessed violent clashes between the two groups in Behsud district of Maidan Wardak province, which, according to a joint Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)-UNAMA mission, resulted in at least 23 deaths, the displacement of more than 6,000 families and destruction to property, which for the first time included mosques. These figures exclude victims among the Kuchis.


A. Transitional justice

38. Re-establishing the rule of law and ending impunity for past crimes remain crucial to combating a deeply entrenched culture of impunity that, in turn, is essential to securing a just and lasting peace. Individuals suspected of having committed gross human rights violations have still not been held to account and quite a number hold and continue to be appointed to high-ranking positions of authority, both at the central and local level. Not only is this a violation of Afghanistan’s international obligation to fight against impunity for serious international crimes, it also compromises public confidence in the Government and its international partners, undermines the legitimacy of public institutions, in particular law enforcement and judicial, and reinforces the prevailing impunity for human rights violations.

39. The Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice adopted in 2005 represented the broad framework for addressing the past and building a society based on the rule of law. Its time frame indicated that it would meet its objectives by the end of 2008. The Action Plan has not A/HRC/10/23 page 12

been implemented due to a lack of political support and willingness, on the part of both the Government and the international community, to address accountability as a core priority in the overall project to transform Afghanistan.

40. Serious concerns remain with respect to the Parliament’s approval of the National Reconciliation Charter in 2007 which called on all parties, including the armed opposition, to strive towards national reconciliation. It offered immunity from prosecution to all those endorsing the initiative. This move perilously undermined transitional justice process objectives by denying victims their right to truth and reparation and by shielding perpetrators from accountability and appropriate forms of punishment.

41. A further concern is that the voice of Afghan civil society and of human rights organizations regarding the future of transitional justice in the country has been silenced through threats and harassment.

42. OHCHR has worked with UNAMA and Afghan partners on transitional justice issues. An extensive public-awareness campaign and a theatre project portraying the plight of victims was carried out in several provinces during 2008, in collaboration with the AIHRC. UNAMA produced a video based on the theatre production which was broadcast on Human Rights and Remembrance Day in Afghanistan.

43. Measures were taken to strengthen domestic forensic expertise in the investigation and preservation of mass grave sites. In early December 2008, the remains of the late President Daud Khan and 16 members of his family were officially identified, as noted by the Minister of Public Health. Concerns have been expressed that mass grave sites in the Dasht-i-lali area near Shiberghan were tampered with and material evidence destroyed. All measures must be taken so that all mass grave sites are secured without delay. Establishing the truth about the past, in accordance with international standards, remains of crucial importance.

B. Impunity and abuse of power

44. The failure to prosecute perpetrators of past crimes and continuing abuses seriously undermines the legitimacy of Afghan law enforcement and judicial institutions and has eroded the people’s confidence in the rule of law. This has ultimately paved the way to the current situation in which impunity prevails.

45. UNAMA continues to receive complaints concerning the failure of the police to conduct proper investigations and to act impartially and independently with regard to human rights allegations. Similarly, prosecutors and judges are often reluctant to address cases that confront traditional practices or powerful local interests. Certain categories of citizens, such as girls, women and the poor, are more often than not excluded from the formal justice system, as judicial authorities do not give weight to their claims and systematically side with the power-brokers. Thus, the presumption of innocence and procedural fair trial requirements are often disrespected.

46. Rampant and institutionalized corruption, combined with weak internal oversight and discipline mechanisms, impede the ability of the judiciary to perform its functions independently and efficiently. The lack of properly trained personnel and material resources further limits their capacity to carry out their mandated functions. Factors such as institutions which do not abide by A/HRC/10/23 page 13

the law - particularly in rural and war-affected areas, the ominous influence of warlords, local commanders and other local power-holders, and failure to ensure a secure environment for courts, victims and witnesses continue to undermine the independence and impartiality of the judicial authorities.

47. Traditional dispute resolution mechanisms (such as jirga and shura), though not recognized in the Constitution, are widely resorted to, especially in rural areas; this is due, in part, to limited access to, and confidence in, formal justice institutions. Although there are positive elements in traditional mechanisms in terms of community cohesion and accessibility, there are serious concerns with respect to due-process requirements, in particular for women, children and vulnerable groups.

48. Nevertheless, some positive developments have been noted, such as the drafting of a Bill on the Elimination of Violence against Women, in which the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and civil society organizations have been involved. The Ministry of Justice’s recent initiative to establish a State-funded legal aid system and the establishment of the Bar Association represent another important step forward. These measures should enhance the safeguarding of rights of defendants and the provision of legal representation for the most vulnerable.

49. Addressing impunity and further strengthening the rule of law is a priority in Afghanistan. There is a need for mechanisms, such as the advisory panel for appointments envisaged in the Action Plan for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation, to prevent those accused of having committed serious crimes from obtaining senior government posts. The forthcoming elections also present an opportunity for Afghans to take further steps to prevent persons accused of having committed serious offences under domestic and international law contesting seats in the Parliament.


A. Freedom of expression

50. The ability of media actors, civil society groups and other Afghan citizens to freely express their opinions and thoughts came under attack across Afghanistan throughout 2008. National and provincial government officials, anti-Government elements and different power-brokers all sought to restrict freedom of expression. Police and prosecutors generally proved ineffective at protecting freedom of expression given their apparent collusion with those in positions of power. The judiciary has not consistently provided protection, and, at times, has also been a factor in restricting the right to express opinions. Freedom of expression is often presented as threatening existing power structures, national security interests or Islamic values. Afghanistan’s increasingly repressive and closed society has triggered self-censorship throughout the country and stifled criticism and debate.

51. Threats, intimidation and attacks persisted against journalists and others expressing opinions deemed unwelcome, as did attempts to stifle critical reporting on corruption and other issues deemed “sensitive”. For instance, an Afghan radio-television presenter was dismissed by the Ministry of Information and Culture in May 2008 after he stated on television that freedom A/HRC/10/23 page 14

of expression only existed on paper and that the media was a mere tool of the powerful. In July 2008, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) arrested and detained a television journalist who aired a critical review of the President’s administration. The journalist eventually sought asylum abroad given fears that his life was under threat. Women journalists also continue to be specifically targeted.

52. Freedom of the media was also under significant threat in the areas affected by armed conflict. Kidnappings and killings of journalists continued. In June 2008, an Afghan BBC journalist working in Helmand province was abducted and killed. Though the Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident, the killing may have been linked to investigations into corruption. The killing led to 10 journalists leaving Helmand province.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bedein responds to NIF claims against Bedein in the Jewish Week

NIF is claiming that there are factual errors in Crossing Red Lines; NIF and Israel

1. We have never funded Zochrot or New Profile, never. Not
donor-advised, not Ford, not nobody.

2. We haven¹t funded Coalition for Women for Peace since 2006.

3. Adalah had no involvement with the so-called ³Durban2² conference,
NIF signed the Magenta Principles objecting to any anti-Israel agenda at
that conference and we refused to fund any attendance or participation
there. If Saleh is a client of Adalah¹s, that by no means equates to
agreeing with his agenda; were that so, every criminal defense lawyer in New
York city could be held liable for his client¹s questionable views.



15 Feb 2010

David Bedein
Director, Israel Resource News Agency & The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd


Publicly available records from the New Israel Fund and from NIF constituent agencies can easily refute the four claims of the NIF.

Zochrot, which advocates the right of return for Palestinian refugees to homes that they left in 1948, is featured on the NIF's Shatil web site
This past week, after the Jewish Week revealed NIF support of Zochrot, that “url” mysteriously disappeared. However, a search in the “Cache” of deleted web sites did resurrect the Zochrot url on the NIF Shatil website.

In addition,Zochrot itself publicly expresses appreciation to the NIF's Shatil organization for helping Zochrot with their fund raising. (2)

Contrary to the NIF claim that NIF stopped funding the Coalition of Women for Peace in 2006, financial statements issued by the New Israel Fund show that NIF continued to provide substantive funds to the Coalition of Women for Peace in 2007 and 2008. (3)

New Profile, which receives its funding from the Coalition of Women for Peace, actively campaigns and counsels young people against enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces, and is prominently featured on at least six places on the NIF Shatil website. (4)

Why would NIF claim that NIF funded Adalah played no role in the Durban II conference in Geneva last April, when, in fact, a representative of Adalah joined representatives of other Israeli Arab organizations in a vociferous lobby against Israel. (5)

At the same time, it would be surprising if NIF did not know that NIF grantees Adalah and the Coalition of Women for Peace's constituent groups issued public letters that reached the Goldstone Commission which accused Israel of war crimes (6) and that The Rabbis for Human Rights, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Breaking the Silence, all funded by the NIF, set up a GazaWar website which accused Israel of war crimes. (7)

It would also be surprising if NIF did not read the testimonies before the Goldstone Commission of more than 15 NIF grantees who alluded to Israeli war crimes in Gaza. (8)

The NIF prides itself in transparency and in the fact that its constituent agencies operate in the open.

That very transparency helps a reporter to critique the NIF's activities in the public domain.

This should be a time of “heshbon nefesh” for the NIF to reconsider policies and positions adopted by some NIF supported groups who choose to demonize Israel, instead of playing games of denial.

It is one thing for the NIF to criticize Israeli policy. It is quite another matter for the NIF to demonize Israel.


This is the recovered link:

“Eitan Bronstein, the director, also arranged to receive supervision from Tamar Oversky, an organizational consultant from Shatil. With the increase in Zochrot’s budget, a number of ideas are being considered to improve how we track expenditures on activities”.



5. The Adalah's annual report states that “Adalah Board member, Fouad Sultani, participated as an observer in the Durban Review Conference (DRC)held in Geneva in 4/09. His participation was supported by the UN. Badil, Al-Haq and Adalah wrote to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to express our disappointment and concern that the DRC neglected the victims of severe racial discrimination, in particular the Palestinians...”

6. www.cihrs,org/English/News System/Articles/673


8. pp 29-60 of “The Influence of New Israel Fund Organizations on the Goldstone Report” , which can be found at: