Afghanistan officials sanctioned murder, torture and rape, says report

Human Rights Watch accuses high-ranking officials of allowing extrajudicial killings and brutal practices to flourish after fall of Taliban

By Emma Graham-Harrison

Top Afghan officials have presided over murders, abduction, and other abuses with the tacit backing of their government and its western allies, Human Rights Watch says in a new report.

A grim account of deaths, robbery, rapes and extrajudicial killings, Today We Shall All Die, details a culture of impunity that the rights group says flourished after the fall of the Taliban, driven by the desire for immediate control of security at almost any price.

“The rise of abusive political and criminal networks was not inevitable,” the report said. “Short-term concerns for maintaining a bulwark against the Taliban have undermined aspirations for long-term good governance and respect for human rights in Afghanistan.”

The report focuses on eight commanders and officials across Afghanistan, some of them counted among the country’s most powerful men, and key allies for foreign troops. Some are accused of personally inflicting violence, others of having responsibility for militias or government forces that committed the crimes.

Kandahar’s most powerful commander, the former head of the intelligence service and a key northern governor are among those implicated. All of the accused have denied the allegations against them.

Some have ties to the former president Hamid Karzai, who as early as 2002 warned that security would be his first priority. “Justice [is] a luxury for now; we must not lose peace for that,” the report quotes him saying soon after coming to power. While he was in office, a blanket amnesty law for civil war-era crimes was passed.

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