Arbitrary Detention,Torture, and Discrimnatory Practices

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Although President Ghani launched a national action plan to eliminate torture in early 2015, these was no progress on implementation through 2016, and the government did not make public information on investigations into cases of torture. In March, a smartphone video showing police in Kandahar beating a suspect and dragging him behind a truck was widely circulated on social media, prompting government officials to state that the incident had been investigated and those responsible punished. However, no details were forthcoming.

Afghan law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and there were reports of harassment, violence, and detentions by police. Advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community function largely underground out of fear of persecution.

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Key International Actors

The US military in May 2016 released a report on the October 2015 airstrike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) hospital in Kunduz that killed 42 and wounded dozens more. The report concluded that US personnel had committed violations of international humanitarian law during the operation, yet because there was no showing that the personnel acted deliberately, did not recommend that any criminal charges be brought.

At the NATO Summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, member states pledged to sustain the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan beyond 2016 and continue the mission’s training and financial assistance to Afghan security forces through 2020. At the summit, NATO members endorsed a new policy for protecting civilians that included measures to monitor its own actions in conflict areas and respond to those of partner states.

The US government did not clarify the overarching military objectives of US or NATO military forces supporting Afghan security forces. As of June 15, the US authorized its forces to “more proactively support” ANSF through providing “close air support” and “accompanying and advising Afghan conventional forces.”

The US continued to carry out counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, often partnering with Afghan Special Forces units in ground operations. The US carried out airstrikes on a level not seen since 2011 in battles in Helmand, Kunduz, and Uruzgan when Taliban forces threated to take over provincial capitals, and against Taliban and groups affiliating themselves with ISIS, particularly in Nangarhar. More than 100 civilians were reportedly killed by US airstrikes in the first half of 2016.

Noting Taliban gains and continuing insecurity in Afghanistan, on July 6, US President Barack Obama announced a revised withdrawal timetable to leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan by the end of December 2016. Germany, Turkey, and Italy agreed to keep their deployments in Afghanistan at current levels of 850, 760, and 500 troops, respectively, after 2016. The UK increased its troop commitment, adding 100 additional forces in July 2016.

India committed to defense and counterterror cooperation and promised assistance in education, health, agriculture, empowerment of women, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions, but did not call for human right protections.

The International Criminal Court continued its preliminary examination of allegations of serious international crimes in Afghanistan, which it began in 2007.

At the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan in October 2016, donors committed US$15.2 billion to the Afghan government, but specified no concrete human rights benchmarks for that assistance.

Triggered by a surge in the return of refugees and migrants from Pakistan, in September the UN high commissioner for refugees launched an emergency appeal for Afghanistan to provide humanitarian assistance to an unprecedented number of returnees, along with hundreds of thousands of those newly displaced by the expanding conflict

Freedom of Expression

The year was the bloodiest on record since 2001 for Afghan journalists, with 12 killed in the first nine months of the year. Government or pro-government elements were responsible for most of the violence against journalists, followed by the Taliban. A January 20, 2016 suicide attack on a minibus in Kabul killed seven journalists affiliated with Tolo, one of the largest national media outlets. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which it described in a statement as “revenge” for “false allegations” made against the insurgent group.

On January 30, President Ghani issued a decree for the protection of journalists, ordering the Attorney General’s Office to “urgently” investigate all deaths of journalists since 2002 and publicize the results. As of November 2016, no results of any investigations had been made public.

Following an incident on August 29, in which Ghani’s security detail beat nine journalists during a visit to Bamiyan city, the National Security Council approved the Procedure for Immunity and Security of Journalists and the Press, aimed at protecting journalists from violence.

The implementation of the Access to Information Law, which came into effect in 2014, remained limited. In his January 2016 media decree, President Ghani urged officials to provide information to journalists in a timely manner. But in September 2016, the Oversight Commission on Access to Information reported that the government was failing to share information with journalists.

The Media Violations Investigations Commission, which the government had dissolved in 2015 in response to demands by media watchdogs, was reinstated. The minister of information and culture oversees the commission. Powerful individuals, mostly government officials, have used the commission as a tool to intimidate and silence journalists.

Civilian

Civilian casualties from ANSF operations during ground offensives also increased compared to 2015; most were due to indiscriminate mortar and rocket fire in civilian-populated areas. Aerial strikes—most from attack helicopters—resulted in a 72 percent increase in civilian casualties—the highest since 2011. Most victims were women and children.

 

  Afghanistan Events  

Afghans attend a funeral for those killed by an airstrike during a raid on suspected Taliban forces in Kunduz on  fighting continued between Taliban and government forces in Afghanistan in 2016, thousands of civilians were killed and injured in insurgent suicide and IED attacks. The Taliban claimed responsibility for many of these, but groups affiliating themselves with the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed several particularly deadly attacks in Kabul.

The Afghan government continued to expand its use of illegal militias, some of which were responsible for killings and assaults on civilians. Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) were also responsible for civilian casualties from indiscriminate aerial and mortar attacks. Both the Taliban and ANSF increasingly used schools for military purposes; such abuses, along with insecurity throughout the country, deprived many children, particularly girls, of access to education. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans became newly internally displaced, including many returned refugees and migrants.

Throughout the year, political infighting stalled progress on the National Unity Government’s reform agenda, threatening a political crisis over the government’s failure to hold district council and parliamentary elections on time, and meet the deadline for convening a constitutional Loya Jirga (grand assembly). The government made some progress in releasing women jailed for so-called morality crimes, but failed to end prosecutions of women for “running away.” The year saw no progress in the government’s vows to implement a national action plan to curb torture, or to hold accountable government officials responsible for attacks on journalists.

Afghanistan location

the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country’s strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. The land has historically been home to various peoples and has witnessed numerous military campaigns, including those by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet, and in the modern era by Western powers. It has been called by some as “unconquerable”.[13][14] The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khaljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.[15]

 

New air campaign in Afghanistan is test for Trump strategy in America’s longest war

Nahom said military planners will develop an array of targets to destroy the Taliban’s leadership and ability to command and control its forces. “This is really the first step,” he said.

In August, the Trump administration ordered new authorities that lifted restrictions on what could be targeted. Planners began pouring over intelligence to find targets that would cripple the Taliban’s finances.

“We’re working very hard to gain more understanding of the networks,” Nahom said.

The drug business was a natural place to start. The Pentagon estimates that half the Taliban’s revenues came from the drug trade, allowing the militants to pay fighters and buy weapons. The Taliban “taxes” poppy farmers and also refines the harvest into heroin.

The strikes on drug labs last month cost the Taliban between $7 million and $10 million in lost revenues, the U.S. military command in Afghanistan said.

The number of bombs and other munitions dropped on Taliban targets has already tripled this year, according to Gen. John Nicholson, the top coalition commander in Afghanistan. U.S. warplanes dropped 3,554 bombs and other munitions in the first ten months of this year, according to U.S. military statistics.