Afghanistan arms fuel further abuse

The US and other NATO states are supplying arms to Afghanistan that could be used for serious human rights violations, warns Amnesty International.

At this week’s NATO Summit in Bucharest (2-4 April), the organization is expressing its concern about excessive quantities of small arms, light weapons and munitions being supplied by member states of NATO and allied states to local Afghan security forces and police. There is a substantial risk that such equipment will be used for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Amnesty International fears that civilians caught up in the armed conflict in the country are increasingly vulnerable to failures by all sides – including the Afghan government, international military forces and the Taleban – to uphold their international legal obligations.  

Despite millions of small arms already being found within Afghanistan, 409,022 more small arms have been imported and redistributed since 2002, according to data received by Amnesty International. This is despite a ceiling for all Afghan security forces (including police, army and security services) of just 182,000 people.

This level of supply is disturbing, given that the population is already saturated and abused with small arms. Processes to reform Afghanistan’s security sector are faltering. Vital safeguards regarding arms – such as stockpile management, human rights training, control of the use of force and transparent oversight – are still not in place.