UNAMA Reports

This collection brings together all of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s (UNAMA) reports on the protection of civilians in armed conflict and treatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody. UNAMA is a UN Special Political Mission, established in March 2002. In accordance with its UN Security Council mandate, UNAMA’s Human Rights Unit has, since 2007, prepared regular reports documenting civilian casualties in Afghanistan. These include annual reports and, for later years, quarterly updates.

UNAMA’s reports on the protection of civilians are based on their investigations into individual reports of civilian casualties caused by all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, including so-called ‘Anti-Government Elements’ and ‘Pro-Government Forces’. This latter term includes Afghan national security forces as well as ‘other forces and groups that act in military or paramilitary counter-insurgency operations and are directly or indirectly under the control of the Government of Afghanistan.’ It also includes international military forces, which encompasses all foreign troops under NATO or US command, including ‘Special Operations Forces and other foreign intelligence and security forces.’

These UNAMA investigations draw from the primary testimony of victims and witnesses to the incident, accounts from military forces, information from local authorities, and on-site investigations. The reports provide aggregated statistics on civilian casualties in Afghanistan as well as accounts of specific incidents, policy recommendations and explanations of patterns and changes in civilian casualties. Given the difficulty in verifying the facts around many incidents, there will undoubtedly be significant underreporting in these documents.

Particularly from 2009 to 2012, UNAMA highlighted concerns in relation to night raids and special forces. This included the difficulties of investigating civilian casualties from special operations, given ‘the lack of transparency, frequency and wide scale of such operations conducted by ISAF, ANA, international and national special forces and special operations forces, other government agencies and the ANBP, both independently and jointly.’ Indeed, special forces regularly did not respond to requests for information or make information available to UNAMA.

UNAMA’s reports on the treatment of conflict-related detainees are based on their observations from Afghanistan’s detention facilities. They were able to interviewees alone, without the presence of staff or officials, including those who had been detained following international military forces’ night raids. These reports regularly highlight UNAMA’s concerns about mistreatment, torture and due process in these facilities.