Afghanistan: AIHRC urges ICC probe into Afghan civilian casualties

Chairwoman of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Sima Samar, on Tuesday called on the international community not to turn a blind eye towards a rise in civilian casualties and human rights violations in Afghanistan.

She said that war crimes in Afghanistan must be probed by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

TOLO news ( ) quoted her saying that if the international community does not take action on civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the insurgent groups will expand their attacks on civilian targets.

According to a Special Investigation Report of the AIHRC titled, “Summary of the Report on Civilian Casualties in Armed Conflict in 1396” released on 30 April 2018, the total number of civilian casualties during the year 1396 amounted to 9,413 people. Among them, the number of deaths was 3,239, and the number of injured was 6,174 people. 4,141 of them were men, 803 of them (8.5%) were women, 2,692 of them (28.5%) were children, and the age and sex of 1,777 others (18.8%) were unclear. These figures indicate that causality rates are higher for men than for women. After men, children have the most casualties and women are in the third stage. The proportion of deaths to total casualties is higher among men than women and children, while 47.3% of all civilian casualties among men are killed, this proportion is 38.1% for women and 12.5% for children.

According to the AIHRC’s findings, the perpetrators of more than a quarter of civilian casualties, 26.6%, remain unknown. 65.2% of all civilian casualties are related to anti-government armed groups, and other 7.8% attributes to government and pro-government forces. 0.4% was also caused by rocket shelling by Pakistani forces. The Pakistani forces fired 41 rockets on the eastern border, which is 66% more compared to 17 rockets during the previous year.

Meanwhile, Afghan citizens have called on the warring factions not to harm civilians during the conflict.

“They should not fight inside mosques and schools, they must avoid civilian casualties and fight in the battlefield,” said a resident of Kabul, Fazlurrahman.

“The government should provide us with security. Why should innocent people be killed?” asked another resident of Kabul, Mohammad.

“Civilian casualties committed from any side of the conflict, whether by the government and its international partners or the armed opponents of the Afghan government, is not acceptable and there should be accountability,” said AIHRC chairwomen Samar.

“With regard to war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, civilian casualties and attacks on residential areas and civilian facilities, these must be investigated by the International Criminal Court,” added Samar.

This comes at a time when over the past month, insurgents have escalated with suicide attacks on civilian targets in a number of major provinces, including the capital Kabul, Khost, Kunduz and Kandahar.

Shyamal Bikash Chakma

Shyamal Bikash Chakma is Public Editor of The aPolitical and a PhD candidate in Development Studies at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and recipient of the Felix Scholarship 2017.
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