Human Rights Watch urges US to respect laws of war in Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch (HRW) on May 13 called on the US government to make “fundamental changes to reduce civilian casualties” in Afghanistan after attacks last week reportedly left more than 140 civilians dead. HRW said that a review announced by chief of the US Central Command General David Petraeus must result in “measures that genuinely minimize civilian loss of life.” HRW called on the US to heed international laws of war, under which attacks cannot be indiscriminate or cause disproportionate civilian loss.

The next day, US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said that the investigation will show that the Taliban, not US air strikes, are responsible for the civilian deaths.

Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, on May 11 demanded that restrictions be placed on foreign forces to avoid further civilian casualties before recessing in protest of recent air strikes. Wolesi Jirga secretary Abdul Sattar Khawaasi said that parliament has given the government one week to come up with a plan to regulate US and other foreign troops. Afghan President Hamid Karzai also called for an end to US air strikes last week. US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser retired Gen. James Jones told ABC Sunday that the US would not end air strikes. (Jurist, May 15)

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