Voice

U.N. Says Afghan Civilian Toll on Rise

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has produced a gloomy new report on civilian casualties in the country. According to UNAMA's website:

UNAMA documented 1,319 civilian deaths and 2,533 injuries in the first half of 2013, marking increases of 14 per cent in deaths and 28 per cent in injuries over the same period in 2012. This rise reverses the decline observed in 2012 and suggested a return to the trend of 2011 when high numbers of civilian deaths and injuries were documented.

The report attributes 74 per cent of all civil casualties to actions taken by Anti-Government Elements, a rise of 16 per cent over the same period last year 2012. Pro-Government forces were found responsible for nine percent of casualties, 12 per cent of the casualties were unattributed and resulted from ground engagements between Pro-Government Forces and Anti-Government Elements and the remaining five per cent were unattributed, resulting mostly from unexploded ordnance. The annual report prepared by UNAMA has been documenting the deaths and injuries of non-combatants since 2007.

Taliban representatives are taking issue with how the U.N. defines civilians. Via the New York Times:

The Taliban, for its part, rejected the report as little more than a tool of the American strategy. In addition to denouncing the coalition’s responsibility for innocent Afghan deaths, the group took issue with what it viewed as the United Nations’s use of the word civilian to describe government employees, like judicial workers.

“Calling them civilians is Unama’s own judgment,” the statement said, referring to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. “We don’t consider people civilians who are directly involved in our country’s occupation.”

The Multilateralist

European Court to Hear CIA 'Black Site' Cases

The European Court of Human Rights will examine two cases related to Poland's cooperation with the CIA's rendition and interrogation program. Via Reuters:

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has agreed to consider a second case against Poland over allegations it allowed the CIA to run a secret jail on its soil, intensifying pressure on Warsaw to reveal how closely it was involved in the U.S. "war on terror".

The Strasbourg-based court will consider an application from Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, who alleges that he was held illegally about a decade ago in a CIA-run facility on the grounds of an intelligence training academy in a Polish forest.

His case will be considered alongside one brought earlier by Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who says he was held in the same place as part of a CIA program of "extraordinary rendition" to detain and interrogate suspected al Qaeda operatives.

In 2012, the ECHR ruled that the government of Macedonia had to pay damages to Khalid El-Masri, a German national who was arrested (mistakenly) by the authorities and handed to the United States. He spent several months detained in Afghanistan, where he was allegedly tortured.