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No justice for civilians killed by NATO: AI

No justice for civilians killed by NATO: AI

Aug 11, 2014 - 12:24

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): A New York-based human rights watchdog on Monday said the families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATOinfo-icon forces had been left without justice.

In a new report, Left in the Dark, Amnesty International (AI) said even apparent war crimes had gone uninvestigated and unpunished. The report is primarily focused on airstrikes and night raids by US forces.

Richard Bennett, AI’s Asia Pacific director, said: “Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress...”

The US military justice system almost always failed to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses,

Bennett alleged. “None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

The Afghan government was urged to ensure that accountability for unlawful civilian killings was guaranteed in any future bilateral security agreements signed with NATO and the United States.

In its investigations of 10 incidents that took place between 2009 and 2013, the group found 140 civilians were killed, including pregnant womeninfo-icon and at least 50 children. It interviewed some 125 witnesses, victims and family members, including many who had never given testimony to anyone before.

Qandi Agha, a former detainee held by US Special Forces in the Nirkh district of Maidan Wardak province in late 2012, told AI of the daily torture sessions he endured.

“Four people beat me with cables. They tied my legs together and beat the soles of my feet with a wooden stick. They punched me in the face and kicked me. They hit my head on the floor,” alleged the man, who was dunked in a barrel of water and given electrical shocks.

In many of the cases covered in the report, US military or NATO spokespeople would announce that an investigation was underway. They would not release any information about the progress, leaving victims and family members in the dark.

Bennett said: “We urge the US military to immediately investigate all the cases documented in our report, and all other cases where civilians have been killed. The victims and their family members deserve justice.”

“There is an urgent need to reform the US military justice system. The US should learn from other countries, many of which have made huge strides in recent years in civilianizing their military justice systems,” stressed Bennett.

Amnesty International also called upon the Afghan government to immediately establish its own mechanism to investigate abuses by the Afghan National Security Forces, who will assume full combat responsibility by the end of 2014.


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