New Afghan Defence Minister Should Face Investigation, Sanctions: HRW

New Afghan defence minister should face investigation, sanctions: HRW

NEW YORK, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 12th Jan, 2019 ) :A prominent international watchdog body has called for the prosecution of new Afghan Defence Minister Assadullah Khalid, saying there is "credible evidence" linking him to serious human rights abuses.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Khalid's appointment by President Ashraf Ghani last month "should have rung alarm bells not only in Kabul, but in the capitals of Afghanistan's major donors." "That it didn't says a lot about how little human rights matter to an increasingly shaky government, and to donors looking for an exit from the long Afghan war," it added.

The defence minister, who previously had governed volatile Kandahar and Ghazni provinces and served as the Afghan spy chief, is also accused of ordering the killing of five United Nations workers in a roadside bombing in April 2007 in Kandahar.

"Credible evidence of serious human rights abuses and war crimes linked to Khalid have followed him throughout his government career," HRW said. "Reports first came to light during Khalid's tenure as governor of Kandahar a time when thousands of Canadian troops were based in the province." "There is also strong evidence directly implicating Khalid in acts of sexual violence against women and girls when he was governor of Ghazni and Kandahar," HRW said. "Khalid allegedly threatened his victims, saying 'they would be killed and their families destroyed if they told anyone what had happened'.

" The HRW report denounced Khalid's appointment as an "opportunistic and callous move" by President Ghani to score to "short-term gains" in the upcoming Afghan presidential elections.

President Ghani's government has proved unwilling to criminally investigate Khalid but the United States and Canada have the authority under their respective laws to impose financial and travel sanctions on him, HRW insisted.

"The European Union and other donors should impose similar sanctions to send a clear message that returning a known human rights abuser to a position of authority is simply unacceptable." The allegations against Khalid initially stemmed from his stint as the governor of Kandahar a decade ago - a time when thousands of Canadian troops were based in the province as part of the U.S.-led military coalition.

"An official internal Canadian document described the allegations of human rights abuses attributable to Khalid as numerous and consistent," the statement said.

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin had testified before a Canadian parliamentary commission in 2009 that Khalid perpetrated enforced disappearances and held people in private prisons.

"The testimony included evidence of Khalid's personal involvement in the torture of detainees. Chris Alexander, a senior Canadian official working with the United Nations in Afghanistan at the time, alleged that Khalid ordered the killing of five UN workers in a roadside bombing in Kandahar in April 2007."

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