A UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] mid-year report [text, PDF] released on Wednesday indicated a 23 percent rise in the number of Afghani civilian casualties over the first six months of 2013 as compared to the same period last year. The report noted that many civilian deaths have been caused by the increased use of improvised explosive devices [UNAMA press release]. Women and children are also increasingly the victims in the country's war, with a 30 percent increase in the number of children killed. Additionally, almost 75 percent of civilian deaths during this time period were caused by Anti-Government Elements [Reuters report] such as Taliban members, who were increasingly targeting civilians that they viewed as cooperating with the government. The report calls on the Afghanistan government to "continue to disband and disarm all armed groups and to take measures to ensure accountability for human rights abuses carried out by these groups." It also recommends that Anti-Government Elements comply with international humanitarian law and cease the targeted killing of civilians.
Afghanistan [JURIST backgrounder] has been the target of much criticism [JURIST op-ed] regarding its human rights issues. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] warned [JURIST report] Afghanistan that recent appointments to its top human rights body compromise the country's independence. Pillay recommended that President Hamid Karzai [official website] reconsider the appointments and re-open the selection process. In October 2011 the UN released a report [JURIST report] which indicated that nearly half of the 273 prisoners in Afghan-run detention facilities who were interviewed had been subject to torture. A month earlier, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report showing that the Afghan Local Police (ALP) force had been committing serious rights abuses [JURIST report], and that officers were not being held accountable for these abuses. The UN also released a report in March of 2010 showing that human rights abuses in Afghanistan were intensifying the issue of poverty [JURIST report], which affected more than two-thirds of the country's population at the time.