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

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 on a hospital, Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Director Daphne Eviatar said: “On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who …

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.

March 15, 2019 • Press Release

Trump Administration Attempts to Thwart International Criminal Court Investigators

Responding to reports that the U.S. will restrict visas for International Criminal Court personnel looking into the U.S. military personnel actions in Afghanistan, Daniel Balson, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA stated: “This announcement is the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections. “While …

March 6, 2019 • Press Release

Trump Administration Makes Shameful Decision to Shroud Civilian Casualties in Secrecy

Reacting to news that the Trump administration has revoked a part of an Obama executive order requiring reporting on civilian casualties, Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s Director of Security with Human Rights stated: “This is a shameful decision that will shroud this administration’s actions in even more secrecy with little accountability for its victims. “The public deserves to know how many …

February 6, 2019 • Press Release

Deadly attacks on journalists in Afghanistan must be investigated

Responding to the attack on two journalists shot dead in Takhar province when gunmen entered a radio station and opened fire, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, Zaman Sultani, said: “The attack on two journalists working in a radio station by unknown gunmen in Takhar province is a horrific crime. This attack once again highlights the …

July 16, 2018 • Press Release

Afghanistan: Record high civilian casualties make returns unjustifiable

The international community cannot abandon the Afghan people who have fled conflict and violence at a time when civilian casualties continue at record highs, Amnesty International said today, calling on governments to halt forced returns to Afghanistan. According to UN figures just released, 1,692 people were killed in the first six months of 2018 – …

February 28, 2018 • Press Release

Afghanistan: Civilian lives must be at the heart of the Kabul Process

The Kabul Process conference must put the protection of Afghan civilians and accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the heart of its discussions this week, Amnesty International said.

October 4, 2017 • Report

Forced Back to Danger: Asylum-Seekers Returned from Europe to Afghanistan

European governments have put thousands of Afghans in harm’s way by forcibly returning them to a country where they are at serious risk of torture, kidnapping, death and other human rights abuses, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Human rights are under threat: