Afghanistan: More US troops must not harm Afghan civilians

Amnesty International has called on the US to establish a consistent, clear and credible mechanism to investigate civilian casualties resulting from military operations after President Barack Obama said he would send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan.

This is now particularly urgent due to the current lack of accountability and transparency within regular US military forces and civilian intelligence agencies, as well as private contractors.

“Recent efforts by the US and NATO forces to minimise civilian casualties are a step forward but the US government must ensure that any troops who violate Afghan civilians human rights are held to account,” said Madhu Malhotra, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director. “More US troops must not lead to more harm to Afghan civilians.”  

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

Respect for international law, including human rights law and international humanitarian law by all parties involved is a prerequisite to bringing security to Afghanistan.

Clearer chains of command and rules of engagement that abide by international law must be established for all forces to ensure the safety of Afghan civilians.

Without a clear sense of who is involved in these operations it is impossible for victims and their families to make complaints, inquire about investigations, and ultimately seek justice.