[JURIST] The US military systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes in Afghanistan, Amnesty International (AI) [advocay website] reported [PDF] Monday. The report, entitled “Afghanistan: Left in the dark: Failures of accountability for civilian casualties caused by international military operations in Afghanistan,” examines the record of accountability for civilian deaths caused by international military operations in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013. The report focuses, in particular, on the poor performance of the US government in investigating possible war crimes and in prosecuting those suspected of criminal responsibility for such crimes.
Reported civilian casualties have been a source of ongoing tension between NATO and US forces and the Afghan population throughout their occupation of the country as part of the US-led War on Terror [JURIST backgrounder] and have drawn significant criticism from human rights groups. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported [JURIST report] in February that civilian casualties had increased by 14 percent in 2013. Earlier that month a Kuwaiti detainee at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] filed suit for release [JURIST report] alleging that the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan signaled and end of the conflict, requiring that prisoners of war be released under international law. In October UNAMA condemned [JURIST report] an attack in south-eastern Afghanistan that claimed the lives of 19 non-combatants for directly targeting civilians. Provincial police in eastern Afghanistan reported [JURIST report] earlier that month that a NATO [official website] drone strike [JURIST feature] had killed 5 civilians.