Human Rights Group Says Taliban “Deplorable”

I mentioned a human rights group, CIVIC, in one of my posts about civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Sarah Holewinski, executive director of CIVIC, was good enough to respond to give more of the story from her group’s side.

I was concerned that the group’s external communications dealt only with one side of the conflict with respect to dealing with civilian casualties.  At one level, Holewinski gets it:

You’re absolutely right in noting that anti-government forces cause tremendous civilian harm. The Taliban’s acts of suicide bombings, IEDs and deliberately hiding out in civilian homes are egregious, and every human rights organization I know (including ours) has called for these practices to stop.

The fact is, many of these tactics are used to deliberately cause harm to civilians – no matter what the Taliban says about its own practices to protect the population. US and its partner forces in Afghanistan are entirely different; they don’t want to cause civilian harm, they understand that winning the population is a mission imperative, and they try their best to avoid civilian casualties.


We will never be able to applaud the Taliban for protecting civilians and address harm, nor will we ever be able to assess their efforts at compensation. Their acts thus far are deplorable.

I’m looking forward to more of this elsewhere from CIVIC and other such groups.

Thanks to Ms. Holewinski for this.

UN: Bad Guys Killed +2/3 of Civilian Casualties in 2009

It’s now official – the U.N. says more than 2 out of 3 civilian casualties in 2009 in Afghanistan were caused by the bad guys.  Here’s the full 43 page report at the UNAMA web site, and here also in case that link isn’t working.

And what does this human rights group seek?

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should immediately establish consistent policies for responding to civilian casualties and property losses in Afghanistan, including thorough investigations, proper apologies and monetary compensation, CIVIC said today.  “International forces have to do more than combat their foe on the battlefield,” said Sarah Holewinski, CIVIC’s executive director. “They urgently need to combat the perception among many Afghans that the international forces don’t care if innocent people suffer harm during military action.” …. CIVIC’s research in Afghanistan shows that in the vast majority of cases Afghans receive nothing from international military forces when suffering deaths, injuries or property losses caused by combat operations. There is currently no unified or systematic mechanism among international forces for providing such redress. Rather, the processes for dispensing condolence payments are opaque, ad hoc, and vary from nation to nation ….

And who is the group putting out this statement (highlights mine)?

CIVIC is a Washington-based organization that believes civilians harmed in conflict should be recognized and helped by the warring parties involved …. We are urging warring parties to take responsibility and provide appropriate assistance to civilians they’ve harmed.

Here’s more about CIVIC’s work (highlights mine):

Calling on NATO to take responsibility for civilian ham

CIVIC is working within NATO to develop a way for member states to make appropriate amends to Afghans inadvertently harmed by ISAF (NATO’s combined military force).  NATO responded to the call with a humanitarian assistance fund, and is now considering a uniform method of compensating civilians.  Many NATO countries are consulting with CIVIC about ways to better support the Afghan population, particularly those suffering losses.

Dignifying suffering with tangible assistance…

CIVIC is leading the charge to improve “compensation” systems for civilians unintentionally harmed, particularly by US combat operations. As one example, CIVIC helped develop the Civilian Assistance Act – legislation set to be introduced in the US Senate this year. If adopted, it will ensure that whenever the US engages in conflict, civilians harmed by its operations can receive fair, just, equitable compensation for their losses.

So, we have a group saying it’s committed to getting help for civilian casualties from, in their words, “the warring parties involved”, but only publicizes what only ONE side in a confilct is doing, seemingly ignoring the side causing more than 2/3 of the problems?

I can’t wait to see your news release regarding what the Taliban should do about the civilian casualties they cause.

Update (1): I have headline envy after reading this:

“When it Comes to Killing Muslims, Taliban Still Top Dog in Afghanistan”