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Rights group urges better legal framework for US military actions in Afghanistan

[JURIST] The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) [advocacy website] urged the US and Afghanistan governments Sunday to establish a better legal framework to guide US military actions in the fight against the Taliban, criticizing US forces for civilian deaths in Afghanistan. The AIHRC said the Afghanistan Constitution [text] and the six international human rights treaties that the country has signed are not detailed enough to govern military actions in the country. An AIHRC commissioner called on the governments who supply soldiers fighting in Afghanistan to take responsibility for civilian deaths, saying a compensation fund created by the US for victims was not enough. Afghan President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has also been criticized for not having enough leverage to protect his citizens [JURIST report] against US military operations.

The AIHRC's comments follow accusations of wrongdoing [HRW report] against US soldiers by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website], which earlier this month denounced US forces for the deaths of over 20 civilians in recent months. HRW said US warplanes dropped a bomb on a house killing a family of nine Afghans and criticized US soldiers for indiscriminately shooting into a crowd of people resulting in 16 civilian deaths. US Col. Tom Collins, a spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive], said the Taliban should instead be blamed for initially firing at US forces from civilian areas. While no official data has been released on civilian deaths since the war in Afghanistan [Wikipedia backgrounder] began in 2001, HRW estimates that over 1,000 Afghan civilians have been killed since January 2006 alone. IRIN has more.

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