Afghan human rights commission not really independent?

This video says about itself:

Afghanistan’s President has ordered an investigation into an alleged 30 civilians killed by US air raids in the west of the country. Meanwhile, the latest reports claim that the raid left 124 people dead.

This is a translation from the Dutch original in daily De Pers of 23 November 2009:

Afghan commission knows nothing about civilian deaths

By: Arnold Karskens

The United Nations are worried about civilians being killed in Uruzgan province. A committee, subsidized by the Dutch government, is not.

When one at the headquarters of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in Kabul AIHRC asks about the number of civilian casualties caused by foreign troops in 2009 in “our province” [Uruzgan], one hears of just two incidents. These are not deaths. “In January, three civilians, and five civilians wounded in March,” says director Mohammad Farid Hamidi of the commission, subsidized by the Netherlands.

Shafiq, who is responsible for the AIHRC office in Tarin Kowt [in Uruzgan], also has no fatal incidents recorded. “We cannot say anything about the deaths this year.” According to him, because the incidents occur in a hazardous area and therefore cannot be investigated.

Strange, isn’t it? As Dr. Sher Ahmed, leader of the UN Mission in Afghanistan UNAMA in Tarin Kowt, happens to be “concerned” about the civilian victims of the fighting in Uruzgan. He cites two recent cases. About August 9 a U.S. helicopter opened fire on civilians, who had climbed a hilltop in the Chora district in order to have a better mobile phone connection. At least three people were killed in the bombardment.

About June 11, two cars were fired at by Dutch helicopters in the Chenartu district, 25 kilometer outside Tarin Kowt. Of the fourteen occupants [in the cars] eight died: one child, one woman and six men. Sher Ahmed: “From one family, four people: wife, son, daughter and grandchild.” Four were injured: one child, a woman and two men. “I get no explanation. ISAF does not always share specific information.”

The large discrepancy, eleven civilian deaths to zero, was no reason for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to check with the AIHRC. Spokesperson Annelou van Egmond is ‘satisfied’ with the work of the committee. The ministry is even considering to prolong the grant “with a limited 25 percent increase until the end of 2009”. Between December 15, 2007 and December 31, 2009 the organization receives over 1.25 million euros. Ms Van Egmond rejects any suggestion of a conflict of interest. “There is no preferential treatment at all.”

Also AIHRC board member Mohammed Farid Hamidi denies that his commission in exchange for Dutch aid keeps silent about civilian deaths in the province. “There is no pressure to minimize casualty figures. However, The Netherlands are our major donors.”

Limiting official “collateral damage” figures in the Afghan war has two major political advantages. First, it enhances the image of the Netherlands as the lead nation in Uruzgan which respects human rights. Secondly, it is advantageous for President Hamid Karzai, as excessive force by foreign troops undermines his influence.

A poll by The Asia Foundation shows that residents of Uruzgan attribute the responsibility for violence in Uruzgan four times more often to foreign troops than the average Afghan does.

Civilians have reported to De Pers several lethal cases this year. A headmaster in the Khas Uruzgan district said last summer that in the village of Nawa Shalee a Taliban prison had been bombed. Three prisoners died. In June, two Kuchi nomads were killed and a woman died in an early November night on her way to Tarin Kowt. In particular the deployment of aircraft and military helicopters are causing civilian casualties.

The Dutch Socialist Party wants the integrity of the AIHRC to be examined.

Afghans say 20 died in NATO airstrike: here.

Fifteen per cent of Afghan army ‘are drug addicts’: here.

MoJo Interview: Malalai Joya: here.

Stealing Money, Selling Heroin and Raping Boys — The Very Dark Side of the Afghan Occupation: here.

It is used to wrap kebabs, chips and glistening jalebi sweets, but rarely is Nato’s flagship propaganda newspaper read in Afghanistan. Bundles of Sada-e Azadi — The Voice of Freedom — are sold by the kilogram as scrap in Kabul’s black market bazaars: here.

Afghan Army Turnover Rate Threatens US War Plans: here.

Americans Are Deeply Involved In Afghan Drug Trade: here.

25 thoughts on “Afghan human rights commission not really independent?

  1. Two Afghan ministers suspected of embezzlement

    Hamid Shalizi, Reuters November 23, 2009, 10:15 pm

    KABUL (Reuters) – Two Afghan cabinet ministers are being investigated under suspicion of embezzlement, a deputy attorney general said on Monday, at a time when President Hamid Karzai faces tough Western pressure to clean up his government.

    Fazel Ahmad Faqiryar declined to name the two ministers, but told Reuters that other officials were also being targeted by the inquiry.

    “If the ministers insist and don’t show up for the interrogation, we have other legal means with which to proceed,” said Faqiryar.

    Karzai, sworn in last week for a second five-year term after an election marred by fraud, has been under pressure by his Western backers to tackle widespread corruption.

    He is due to name his slate of cabinet ministers in coming weeks, and there has been widespread speculation as to whether ministers would be dropped or prosecuted for corruption.

    Several media reports have emerged in the past week of ministers being accused of bribery and other corrupt practices, but Faqiryar’s remarks were the first official confirmation of a probe involving cabinet members.

    Karzai’s government announced two weeks ago it was setting up a new anti-corruption unit, although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the measures still fell short.

    In his inauguration speech Karzai pledged to end a “culture of impunity” and said he would name competent and professional ministers, drawing praise from Clinton and other Western officials.

    U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a decision soon on whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, and U.S. officials say he wants to see evidence that Karzai is a reliable, trustworthy partner.

    Aleem Siddique, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Kabul, said the move was a step in the right direction.

    “Recent action that we have seen is encouraging and must be continued robustly if the authorities are to build confidence,” he told Reuters.

    “The Afghan people and the international community expect the authorities to root out corruption wherever it is identified.”

    Faqiryar said officials at the Religious Affairs ministry were among those being investigated but he did not say whether that included the minister, Sadiq Chakari.

    Chakari confirmed on Sunday that two officials from his ministry were under investigation.

    (Additional reporting by Peter Graff; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by David Fox)


  2. Afghanistan’s children subjected to serious sexual abuse

    Karachi News.Net

    Sunday 22nd November, 2009

    Children in Afghanistan are suffering from serious child abuse and high levels of mortality.

    United Nations officials, speaking in Kabul, have said children are being deprived in the worst possible ways with their rights being neglected despite vast flow of Western aid into the country.

    The Kabul news conference, marking the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, was told Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world; thirty per cent of children are involved in child labour; forty-three per cent of girls are married under age.

    More than one in five children born in Afghanistan dies before the age of five, according to UNICEF estimates.

    Members of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission spoke about reports of sexual exploitation of children by combatants from past military conflicts.

    They said Afghanistan has had some of the highest figures of sexual abuse in recent years.


  3. Despite over $1 trillion in costs and the majority of Americans opposing escalation, President Obama continues to move towards increased military action in Afghanistan.

    Tell President Obama: End the War in Afghanistan

    Bob Fertik

    CREDO Action | more than a network. a movement.

    End the War in Afghanistan

    Dear President Obama,

    News reports indicate that you have rejected specific plans to send between 10,000 and 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan put forward by your military advisers, but that you are still considering escalating the war in Afghanistan.

    We urge you to reject escalation altogether and give us a bridge out of Afghanistan.

    Expanding the war in Afghanistan will make Americans less safe, not more so.

    Less than 100 members of Al Qaeda remain in Afghanistan. The Karzai government we support is controlled by warlords and is riddled with corruption. Pakistan’s stability will be gravely imperiled by an expansion of the war. Hundreds if not thousands of troops will be killed, along with countless civilians. Anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world will be inflamed by civilian bloodshed, facilitating recruitment by terrorist organizations.
    The war will cost billions of dollars when we can least afford it, and will stymie your domestic agenda.

    The cost of sustaining a military force in Afghanistan is $1 million per soldier per year — that’s close to $100 billion dollars annually with the troop increase. With the economy in shambles, the deficits generated by these enormous costs will compromise your domestic legislative agenda both fiscally and politically.

    The United States has no vital interest in Afghanistan. If you choose to further escalate troop levels in Afghanistan, you will be making the biggest mistake of your presidency.


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