HRW Calls For Sanctions Against Afghan Defense Minister Over Alleged Rights Abuses

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged major donors to impose sanctions on Afghanistan's newly appointed defense minister over alleged human rights abuses and other crimes.

"Credible evidence of serious human rights abuses and war crimes linked to [Asadullah Khaled] have followed him throughout his government career," the New York-based rights watchdog said on January 12.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appointed Khaled as defense minister in December, prompting an outcry from human rights organizations that accuse him of being involved in assassinations, torture, and acts of sexual violence against women while serving as governor of Ghazni and Kandahar provinces in 2005 and 2008.

Khaled denies the accusations.

The Afghan government has proved unwilling to criminally investigate Khaled, but Afghanistan's donors can act, said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW.

Adams called on donors including the United States, Canada, the European Union, and others to impose sanctions on Khalid, including an asset freeze and a travel ban, and send a clear message that returning a known human rights abuser to a position of authority is simply unacceptable."

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