Human rights groups in Afghanistan shift focus from NATO to atrocities by Taliban

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Kabul, Feb 10(ANI): Human rights groups working in war-torn Afghanistan have shifted their focus from abuses attributed to NATO forces towards those committed by Taliban insurgents.

The change in attitude is prompted by more than just raw statistics, as NATO and American military leaders have made reducing civilian casualties a cornerstone of their policy and have moved quickly to investigate claims of abuses and often issued apologies.

"NATO, in some cases they acknowledge their mistakes; to some extent they have taken positive steps in terms of reducing their impact," The New York Times quoted Ajmal Samadi, Director of Afghanistan Rights Monitor, as saying.

"On the insurgent side we don't have any acknowledgment of the problem and instead we see a brazen continuation of their crimes," he added.

Outraged by growing civilian casualties in Afghanistan, many local and international activists are now calling for the insurgents to be investigated for war crimes and viewed as war criminals. The insurgents are now blamed for more than three-fourths of all civilian casualties, according to United Nations statistics, and those casualties increased by 20 per cent last year.

While a code of conduct put out by Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar in 2009 and updated last June called for avoiding civilian casualties, the Taliban have since claimed responsibility for many attacks where civilians were, if not necessarily the targets, the main victims.We haven't seen any change in the conduct of the Taliban since their code of conduct," said Ahmad Nader Nadery, a commissioner of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

"To the contrary, we've seen an increase in roadside bombs and suicide attacks in places where there are civilian populations," he added.

Human Rights Watch's Afghanistan analyst Rachel Reid said that NATO had moved a long way with their tactical directives, meeting human rights organisations and listening to their concerns.

"There is a real need for more pressure and open dialogue with insurgent forces for their violations of the laws of war," she emphasised. (ANI)

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