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US concerned at torture of Afghan detainees, disregard for law

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday expressed concern over the current human rights situation in Afghanistan, noting widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for violators of human rights in 2015.

“Widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for those who committed human rights abuses were serious problems. The government did not consistently prosecute abuses by officials, including security forces,” the State Department said in its annual country reports on human rights practices.

Released by Secretary of State John Kerry, the report said the most significant problems were widespread violence, including attacks on civilians by insurgent groups, killings of people affiliated with the government, torture of detainees by security forcesand targeted violence against women.

Other human rights problems included extrajudicial killings by security forces, ineffective government investigations of abuse and torture, poor prison conditions, arbitrary arrests, including of women accused of so-called moral crimes.

The State Department also expressed concern over prolonged pretrial detention, judicial corruption and ineffectiveness, violations of privacy rights, restrictions on freedom of speech, press, religionand movement, as well as pervasive governmental corruption.

It alleged the Taliban and other militant continued to kill civilians and security force personnel using indiscriminate tactics, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), car bombs, suicide attacks, rocket strikes and armed attacks.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) attributed 94 percent of all civilian casualties to targeted killings by insurgents. “The Taliban used children as suicide bombers,” it said.

Other anti-government elements threatened, robbedand attacked villagers, foreigners, civil servants and nongovernmental organisation (NGO) workers. Authorities did not investigate or prosecute most of these abuses, the report said.

“Taliban forces briefly occupied the provincial capital of Kunduz and seized several district centers in September. According to human rights organisations, for several days Taliban forces engaged in targeted searches for civil society activists and government officials, execution of civilians, looting and destruction of NGO and media facilities, and denial to residents of food, water, electricity, and other essential services,” it said. -Lalit K Jha, Pajhwok


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