Warlord rapes going unchecked in Afghanistan, HRW
"Warlords ...have been implicated in widespread rape of women and children, murder, illegal detention, forced displacement, human trafficking and forced marriage"
KABUL (AFP) - A human rights group has urged Afghanistan to tackle the rampant abuse of power by warlords and militias who are allegedly involved in the widespread rape of women and children.
US-based Human Rights Watch Saturday said the Afghan government, the United Nations and NATO member states had not done enough to check the power of local strongmen who hold sway outside the capital Kabul.
"Warlords and their troops in many areas have been implicated in widespread rape of women and children, murder, illegal detention, forced displacement, human trafficking and forced marriage," the rights group said ahead of a meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva next week.
"Local military and police forces, even in Kabul, have been involved in arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, extortion, torture, and extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects," it added.
Key to tackling the problem and bringing abusers to book is disarming illegal militias and establishing a functioning judiciary and police force, the group said.
"Warlords and armed factions, including remaining Taliban forces, dominate most of the country and routinely abuse human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls," it added.
The New York-based group said that the "international community has failed to contribute sufficient troops or resources to adequately address the situation, and basic human rights conditions remain poor in many parts of the country, especially outside of Kabul," it added.
Steps had been taken to tackle the power of warlords by removing Ismael Khan as governor of Herat and by dismissing powerful former defence minister Marshal Mohammed Qasim Fahim, but more needed to be done, Human Rights Watch said.
Women had also made progress with widespread participation in the country's first presidential election in October but the country was still threatened by the power of drug kingpins.
"Afghanistan was the largest worldwide producer of opium and heroin in 2004 and drug profits led to continuing insecurity in rural areas, and stifled reconstruction and development efforts, including efforts to improve rule of law," the group said.
The UN Human Rights Commission should raise the number of human rights monitors in the country and deploy more of them to regional centers where they can more robustly monitor human rights abuses, it added.
It should also request NATO to immdiately expand its peacekeeping operations so as to provide much-needed security to the western, southern, and southeastern areas of Afghanistan.