Annual Report: Afghanistan 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Afghanistan 2013

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  • On 6 April, a suicide bomber killed the head of Kunar Provincial Peace Council Maulavi Mohammad Hashim Munib and his son, as they returned home from Friday prayers.
  • On 6 June, two suicide bombers killed at least 22 civilians and injured 24 others in a crowded market in Kandahar province. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • On 21 June, Taliban forces attacked the Spozhmay Hotel, a popular resort for locals, killing 12 civilians and injuring nine, in a siege that lasted 12 hours.
  • A boy was reportedly abducted and beheaded in August in Zherai district by the Taliban because his brother served in the Afghan Local Police (ALP); the Taliban denied responsibility.
  • On 19 October, 18 women were reported killed in Balkh province when a minibus hit a roadside bomb.

Children continued to be recruited by armed groups.

  • On 26 October, a suicide bomber, reportedly aged 15, killed 40 civilians, including six children, at a mosque during Eid prayers in Mainmana city, Faryab province.

Violations by Afghan and international forces

Pro-government security forces continued to cause civilian deaths and injury mainly by air strikes. According to UNAMA 8% of civilian deaths were caused by national and international forces.

  • On 8 February, eight boys were killed in NATO airstrikes in Kapisa province; the attack was condemned by President Karzai. NATO expressed regret but reportedly claimed the youths had been perceived as a threat.
  • On 11 March, a rogue US soldier killed civilians, including nine children, and injured others in a night-time shooting spree in two villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province. By December, the soldier was facing a court-martial for 16 counts of murder and six counts of attempted murder.
  • On 6 June, 18 civilians, including children, were reportedly killed in a NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters who had taken shelter in someone’s home during a wedding in Logar province.

In September, the Afghan authorities assumed nominal control of the US detention facility at Bagram, north of Kabul. However, the degree of continued US influence over the cases of individual Bagram detainees remained unclear. The Afghan authorities were reported to have taken custody of approximately 3,100 Afghan nationals who were at the facility as of 9 March, when the transfer agreement was finalized. More than 600 detainees reported to have been taken to the base since March apparently remained under US military jurisdiction, as did the cases of at least 50 non-Afghan nationals currently held at the base, many of whom were rendered from third countries to Afghanistan and had been in US custody for a decade. An unknown number of Afghans, captured before the agreement, had not been transferred to Afghan custody.

According to UNAMA, there was a slight drop in incidence of torture and other ill-treatment as of October by the National Directorate of Security, but an increase in its use by national police and border police.

Allegations of human rights violations by members of ALP were widespread and human rights groups raised concern that members were not vetted. More than 100 ALP members were reportedly jailed for murder, rape, bombings, beatings and robbery.

  • In November, four members of the ALP unit in Kunduz were jailed for 16 years each for abducting, raping and beating 18-year-old Lal Bibi over five days in May.

Freedom of expression

A draft media law proposed greater government control over the media. It called for the creation of a 15-member High Media Council, headed by the Minister of Information and Culture and comprising other government officials, charged with checking and controlling press and broadcast media.

Journalists were threatened, arbitrarily arrested, beaten or killed during the year. Afghan media watchdog Nai recorded 69 attacks on journalists by security forces, armed groups and private individuals; this was 14% fewer attacks than in 2011. Prompted by the Ulema Council, the Attorney General threatened criminal proceedings against media organizations for writing or talking about matters deemed immoral or against Islam.