Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amnesty: 'indiscriminate use of air strikes'

Amnesty International's annual human rights report was released today. An excerpt:

Abuses by Afghan and international forces

Civilian casualties have been increasing since 2001...

Serious concerns about the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of air strikes were raised following several grave incidents. On 6 July US-led coalition air strikes in Deh Bala district in Nangahar Province reportedly killed 47 civilians, including 30 children; on 21-22 August air strikes carried out in Shindand district of Herat Province resulted in more than 90 civilian casualties, including 62 children.

In September 2008, responding to criticism regarding the high number of civilian deaths, NATO again revised its rules of engagement...

Some families whose relatives were killed or injured and those who had property destroyed received financial compensation from governments involved in military operations. However, Afghan and international forces lack a systematic programme for assisting those injured by Afghan and international military forces.

NATO and US forces continued to hand over detainees to the NDS, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, which perpetrates human rights violations including torture and arbitrary detention with impunity... (link)
It must be pointed out that international law makes no distinction between deliberate attacks on civilians (which western miltary leaders frequently accuse the Taliban of committing) and indiscriminate attacks. “From the standpoint of the law of international armed conflict," notes a leading legal scholar, "there is no genuine difference between a premeditated attack against civilians (or civilian objects) and a reckless disregard of the principle of distinction; they are equally forbidden.” [Yoram Dinstein, The Conduct of Hostilities Under the Law of International Armed Conflict, Cambridge University Press (2004), p 117.]

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