UN report: air-strikes on Afghan drug labs illegal


US air-strikes in Afghanistan this May resulted in civilian casualties and violated international humanitarian law, the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported Oct. 9. On May 4 the US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) carried out air-strikes on buildings located in Bakwa district, Farah province, and neighboring Delaram district of Nimroz province. The air-strikes were aimed at potential drug facilities in the area but resulted in 39 civilian casualties, including 14 children. In a press release, UNAMA stated: “The report, jointly produced by UNAMA and the UN Human Rights Office, concludes that drug facilities and associated workers may not be lawfully made the target of attack and should be protected.”

UNAMA made recommendations for USFOR-A to follow in response to these air-strikes, including “ceasing aerial bombardments targeting drug production facilities” altogether. UNAMA reiterated the commitments made by UN member states, including the US:

UNAMA highlights that under the international drug conventions, as well as in the outcome document of the thirtieth special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem, all United Nations Member States committed to effective drug-related crime prevention and law enforcement measures. States also committed to respecting, protecting and promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in the development and implementation of drug policies.

UNAMA further reminded USFOR-A that international law does not allow direct attacks on civilians in any country, region or province. The UNAMA report also found sources who stated that working in the drug facilities was one of the few means of employment. USFOR-A stated that the air-strikes targeted methamphetamine production facilities, which were controlled and operated exclusively by the Taliban.

From Jurist, Oct. 10. Used with permission.

Photo: USAF