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Afghanistan: US failing to 'hold soldiers accountable for unlawful killings', claims Amnesty

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Afghanistan: US failing to 'hold soldiers accountable for unlawful killings', claims Amnesty


Evidence of unlawful killings and possible war crimes in Afghanistan have been seemingly ignored by the US, a damming report has claimed.

Amnesty International says thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured but Washington “almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable”.

The US Department of Defense said it has investigated deaths alleged to have occured outside “lawful military operations”.

Richard Bennett, Asia pacific director at Amnesty, said: “Thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces since the invasion, but the victims and their families have little chance of redress. The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses.

“None of the cases that we looked into – involving more than 140 civilian deaths – were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Amnesty drew particular attention to alleged “enforced disappearances, torture and killings” in Nerkh and Maidan Shahr districts, Wardak province.

Qandi Agha, a former detainee of the US in Nerkh told Amnesty of alleged daily torture sessions: “Four people beat me with cables. They tied my legs together and beat the soles of my feet with a wooden stick. They punched me in the face and kicked me. They hit my head on the floor.”

He added: “They would dunk me in a large barrel of water. The tank was made of metal and was round; it was a fuel barrel. It was about one-and-a-half metres tall and a half metre across. They’d dunk me in the tank head first, with just my legs and feet sticking out of the water. My feet would be tied together, and my arms would be tied to my side. They would hold me there until I was unconscious. I’d breathe in water. They did that to me two times, on about the seventh or eighth night I was held. The Americans gave the orders and the Afghans did it.”

Agha also said he witnessed the killing of one person, Sayed Muhammed, while he was in US custody.

Amnesty says formal criminal investigations into the killing of civilians in Afghanistan are extremely rare.

The US Department of Defense said troops go to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties and it took all credible reports of injuries and deaths seriously.

“The United States has investigated US military personnel and civilian personnel, including contractors, for civilian casualties that are alleged to be not incident to lawful military operations,” said spokeswoman Amy Derrick-Frost.

The department added its troops were banned from torturing prisoners and it was committed to humane treatment of all those detained.

“We take vigilant action to prevent such conduct and to hold any such perpetrators accountable for their wrongful acts,” Derrick-Frost said.

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