[JURIST] A military court in Warsaw on Thursday cleared four Polish soldiers of war crimes violations in Afghanistan. The trial began [JURIST report] in February 2009. The soldiers were prosecuted for violating provisions of the Geneva Conventions [ICRC materials], which provide protection for civilian villages that pose no threat to soldiers, while stationed in Afghanistan. Prosecutor Jakub Mytych provided in his opening statement that the soldiers launched an unprovoked attack on the village of Nangrarkhel in August 2007. Six people, including three children, were killed during the attack. The soldiers all pleaded innocent and blamed faulty weaponry for the incident. The court convicted the soldiers of lesser crimes, and three received suspended prison sentences.
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. In February the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [official website] released its annual report [JURIST report] on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” which indicated a 22 percent increase in civilian causalities in 2014. In August Amnesty International [advocacy website] criticized the US for failing to take accountability for civilian deaths caused by international military operations in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013.