Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Head of state and government Ashraf Ghani

The Republic of Afghanistan is a land-locked country located in Central Asia and South Asia with a population of approximately 31 million people. It is estimated that 2.7 million Afghan people still live in Pakistan and Iran after emigrating there. The main three language groups are Pashtu, Dari, Turkmen and Uzbek and the four main ethnic groups consist of Pashtuns (42%), Tajik (27%), Uzbeks (9%) and Hazaras (9%). Over 99% of the Afghan population is Muslim. There are approximately 80% Sunnis and 19% Shi’a Muslims and roughly 1% are non-denominational Muslims.*


The Afghan government consists of three branches: The executive, the legislative and the judicial. On September 29, 2014, Ashraf Ghani became the new president. Abdulllah Abdullah, the other presidential contender is now serving as Chief Executive Officer/CEO. The President put together his cabinet in January 2015 but there is resistance to some of the people selected, mainly because they have dual citizenship. With help from the United States and its allies the Taliban government was toppled in 2001. Over the next decade the Afghan troops and ISAF led many offensives against the Taliban but failed to fully defeat them.

The Afghan government was able to build some democratic structures. With help from foreign donors the economy improved. Healthcare, education, transport and agriculture improved as well. The country however still has one of the highest rates in maternal mortality as well as in infant mortality.

After a surge of up to 30,000 US soldiers in 2011 to the country for a two-year many of the US troops were pulled out at the end of 2014. In May 2011, Osama Bin Laden, the alleged master mind behind the 9/11 attacks in the United States, was killed in Pakistan by US Special Forces. Upon being elected the new president, Ashraf Ghani signed the bilateral agreement per request from President Obama. A residual force of about 9,800 people in the country remain as well as several thousands of contractors, mainly to train the Afghan army.

Human Rights: The United Nations recorded a 23 percent rise in civilian casualties during the first six months of 2013. The majority of those at the hands of insurgents. The Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW Law) was passed by presidential decree in 2009 but opponents have seized upon the opportunity of many international forces withdrawing in the past few years to undermine that law. The new president has indicated support for women’s rights. There were a string of physical assaults in 2013 against high-profile women indicating the danger to Afghan women rights defenders and women in public positions.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) documented an increase in the number of internally displaced people in the first six months of 2013 and attributed the cause mostly to armed conflict and inadequate security. Allegations of ill-treatment and torture continue to surface and the Afghan Local Police (ALP) stands accused of rape, theft and extortion. The rights to freedom of expression and association of media and political parties, hailed as one of Afghanistan’s clear human rights successes since 2001 are increasingly being challenged again.

*More information available in Amnesty International’s 2014 Human Rights Report.


Afghanistan Newsroom

October 14, 2020 • Press Release

Trapped civilians in Afghanistan must be allowed out of Lashkar Gah amid heavy fighting

Civilians must be allowed safe passage out of Lashkar Gah following three days of intense fighting between Afghan government and Taliban forces that has blocked all exit routes from the …

September 2, 2020 • Press Release

U.S. Sanctions Against ICC Staff Create Chilling Effect for International Justice

Responding to today’s announcement of U.S. sanctions against the International Criminal Court (ICC), Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, said: “The Trump administration’s decision to enact sanctions against …

March 26, 2020 • Press Release

As COVID-19 spreads in South Asia, fears rise for people at higher risk

As cases of COVID-19 escalate in South Asia, one of the world’s poorest and most populous regions, Amnesty International calls on the authorities there to put human rights at the …

March 18, 2020 • Press Release

Pompeo’s Remarks on the International Criminal Court Are Callous and Punitive

Responding to the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks during a news conference at the State Department, Amnesty International USA’s advocacy director, Daniel Balson, said: “Threats against family …

March 5, 2020 • Press Release

ICC Authorizes Historic Investigation in Afghanistan

Responding to the International Criminal Court’s decision to open an investigation into international crimes in Afghanistan, Amnesty International’s Head of International Justice, Solomon Sacco, said: "This is a historic moment where the International Criminal Court has reversed a terrible mistake and decided to stand by the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict in Afghanistan.

November 27, 2019 • Press Release

Amnesty International USA Mourns the Tragic Killing of Anil Raj, Calls for Afghan Government to Seek Justice

The following statement was issued today by Board of Directors Chair of Amnesty International USA, Janet Lord: “Amnesty International USA mourns the killing of Anil Raj and sends its deepest …

September 19, 2019 • Press Release

Shocking disregard for civilians as U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan adds to death toll

Responding to the reported killing of numerous farmers in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan, on the same day that 20 civilians were reportedly killed in a suicide bomb attack …

September 5, 2019 • Press Release

Killing of Afghani Human Rights Defender Is A War Crime

Responding to the news that Abdul Samad Amiri, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s acting director in Ghor province, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Samira Hamidi, said:

August 29, 2019 • Press Release

Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan Under Attack From the Authorities and Armed Groups

Afghanistan’s human rights community is under intensifying attacks from both the authorities and armed groups as human rights defenders and activists face intimidation, harassment, threats and violence, Amnesty International said in a briefing released today.

July 9, 2019 • Press Release

Taliban bombings in Afghanistan chillingly disregard human life

The Taliban’s killing of civilians through a continuous spate of bombings demonstrates the armed group’s chilling disregard for human lives, Amnesty International said today.

URGENT: Children seeking asylum in the U.S. are being denied their human rights based on their nationality — help ensure that all girls and boys fleeing violence can seek safety.