UN concerned over rise in civilian casualties

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Kabul, Nov 20 (UNI) United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed concern over the high number of civilian casualties and the lack of progress in implementing the action plan for transitional justice in Afghanistan.

Addressing a press conference at the end of her six-day visit to Afghanistan, Ms Arbour said the number of civilian casualties resulting from ISAF and other international military operations had reached alarming levels and was eroding the public support for continued engagement in the country.

Ms Arbour said the ISAF commanders assured her that they were deliberating on the issue of adopting methodologies for avoiding civilian casualties. She urged them to formulate a plan for the compensation of the civilian victims.

Ms Arbour also emphasised the need for Afghanistan to move ahead on the plan for transitional justice. The plan comprises of several measures, including prosecution of war crimes, which has been controversial in the country since many of those alleged to have committed crimes, hold high positions or are members of Parliament.

The Parliament also adopted an amnesty bill that was signed in to law by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, protecting all those who had participated in the fighting. However, Ms Arbour urged the Afghan Government to also look at the other elements of transitional justice, calling for a recommitment to the plan especially form the international community.

Ms Arbour also spoke on the gender equality and women's rights which was neglected. This articulated her concern with the recent executions carried out by the Afghan government and called for measures to end torture in the National Security Directorate and other facilities for detention.

An amnesty report released recently had called on NATO countries to institute a moratorium on handing over detainees to the NDS saying there was systemic torture in the NDS. Ms Arbour said President Karzai had assured her that he would set up a commission to look in to the issue.


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