WASHINGTON, D.C.—Afghans deserve and expect compensation when harmed, yet international forces in Afghanistan lack a clear, consistent system for responding to civilian losses, according to a new report released today by Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC).
Addressing Civilian Harm in Afghanistan: Policies & Practices of International Forces documents the compensation policies and practices of major troop-contributing nations of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. CIVIC found that no two countries address civilian harm in the same way, leaving Afghans with a confusing, often-disrespectful response to their suffering.
“Most international forces want to respond in the right way to civilian casualties, with respect and dignity,” said Sarah Holewinski, CIVIC’s executive director. “But each of the militaries responds differently, sometimes causing more anger among Afghans than goodwill. It’s time for some teamwork and a clear policy on how to address civilian harm.”
There remains no ISAF-wide policy on compensation. The effectiveness of current practices is limited by lack of consistency in when and how to pay compensation, lack of proper investigations into civilian harm, and lack of communication between nations.
CIVIC found that military personnel, as well as civilians, view amends for harm favorably. The process of investigating harm and paying compensation is an opportunity to explain to survivors what happened, acknowledge loss, and to strengthen relationships with local leaders and the community–a key aspect of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s civilian-centered strategy in Afghanistan.
Addressing Civilian Harm is authored by Chris Rogers, a field fellow for CIVIC based in Islamabad, Pakistan.