The Human Rights Situation in War-Torn Afghanistan

The Human Rights Situation in War-Torn Afghanistan

The United Nations warned Thursday that the human rights situation in war-torn Afghanistan is deteriorating, and urged greater protection for civilians.

In its annual human rights report, the UN also noted a dramatic increase in threats and intimidation against women in public life and those who work outside the home.

"The report highlights concerns over the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan, particularly with regard to civilian casualties," said a UN statement released in Kabul.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is scheduled to formally present the report in Geneva later on Thursday.

Pillay urged both Taliban insurgents and pro-Afghan government forces to "ensure greater respect for the protection of civilians, including women and children," said the statement.

Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where some 70,000 foreign troops are deployed to help Kabul's Western-backed government fight an increasingly bloody insurgency.

The deaths of civilians during foreign military operations are a key source of friction between Washington and Kabul.

According to a recent UN report, more than 2,118 civilians lost their lives in violence last year, the deadliest in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the former Taliban regime.

The UN said violence against women was "tolerated or condoned" within the family and community, within traditional and religious leadership circles as well as the formal and informal justice system.

"Violence against women such as rape, honour killings, early and forced marriage, sexual abuse and slavery remain widespread," the statement quoted Pillay as saying.

"In this regard the Afghan government has failed to adequately protect the rights of women despite constitutional guarantees."

The report also highlighted government use of the death penalty, threats to freedom of expression, and government failure to prosecute perpetrators for...

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