(CNSNews.com) - When the U.S. State Department published its annual report on human rights in Afghanistan for 2000—which was released in February 2001, half a year before the 9/11 terrorist attacks--it noted that Afghanistan had by then already experienced 21 straight years of political instability and civil war.
That dated back to 1979, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
In its most recent report on human rights in Afghanistan, released this March, the State Department noted that there remains "widespread disregard for the rule of law" in Afghanistan and that the Taliban and other insurgents “engage in indiscriminate use of force” in an ongoing civil war.
“Afghanistan continued to experience civil war and political instability for the 21st consecutive year,” said the State Department’s 2000 Country Report on Human Rights in Afghanistan, published on Feb. 23, 2001.
“There was no functioning central government,” said that 2000 report. “The Pashtun-dominated ultra-conservative Islamic movement known as the Taliban controlled approximately 90 percent of the country, including the capital of Kabul, and all of the largest urban areas, except Faizabad.”
One thing Afghanistan did excel at in 2000, according to the State Department report, was the production of opium.
According to the estimate of the UNODC, the number of hectares in Afghanistan devoted to the cultivation of opium poppies increased 145 percent from 2000 to 2016.
“There is no countrywide recognized constitution, rule of law, or independent judiciary,” said the 2000 State Department report. “In 1999 the Taliban claimed that it was drafting a new constitution based on Islamic law, but during the year there were no further announcements regarding a constitution.
“The Taliban remained the country's primary military force,” said the 2000 report. “Taliban and members of other warring Afghan factions committed numerous serious human rights abuses in areas they occupied.
“Agriculture, including high levels of opium poppy cultivation, was the mainstay of the economy,” said the 2000 report. “For the second year in a row, the country was the largest opium producer in the world.”
Sixteen years later, in its report 2016 report on human rights in Afghanistan, the State Department still described Afghanistan as a violent country embroiled in a civil war. The CIA and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, meanwhile, note that it is still the world’s largest producer of illicit opium.
“The most significant human rights problems,” the State Department said in its 2016 report on Afghanistan, released March 3, 2017, “were widespread violence, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians by armed insurgent groups; armed insurgent groups’ killings of persons affiliated with the government; torture and abuse of detainees by government forces; widespread disregard for the rule of law and little accountability for those who committed human rights abuses; and targeted violence and endemic societal discrimination against women and girls.”
“Widespread disregard for the rule of law and official impunity for those who committed human rights abuses were serious problems,” said State’s 2016 report.
“The government did not consistently or effectively prosecute abuses by officials, including security forces,” it said.
“The Taliban and other insurgents continued to kill security force personnel and civilians, including journalists, using indiscriminate tactics such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), car bombs, suicide attacks, rocket attacks, and armed attacks,” said the State Department report.
“The Taliban used children as suicide bombers, soldiers, and weapons carriers,” it said.
“Other antigovernment elements threatened, robbed, kidnapped, and attacked villagers, foreigners, civil servants, and medical and nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers,” it said. “Authorities did not effectively investigate or prosecute most of these abuses.”
In its World Factbook, the CIA states that Afghanistan is the “world's largest producer of opium.”
“[T]he Taliban and other antigovernment groups participate in and profit from the opiate trade, which is a key source of revenue for the Taliban inside Afghanistan,” says the World Factbook, “widespread corruption and instability impede counterdrug efforts; most of the heroin consumed in Europe and Eurasia is derived from Afghan opium; Afghanistan is also struggling to respond to a burgeoning domestic opiate addiction problem.”
In its 2016 World Drug Report, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said Afghanistan was by far the world’s largest producer of illicit opium. In its 2017 report, it said Afghanistan’s opium production had increased from the previous year.
“Afghanistan remains the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for some 70 per cent (3,300 tons) of global opium production; it is followed by Myanmar, accounting for 14 per cent (650 tons) of global production,” said the UNODC’s 2016 report.
“In 2016, global opium production (6,380 tons) increased by one third compared with the previous year,” said the UNODC’s 2017 report.
“Although there was also an increase in the size of the area under opium poppy cultivation, the major increase in opium production was primarily the result of an improvement in opium poppy yields in Afghanistan compared with the previous year,” said the report.
According to the UNODC, Afghanistan had 82,000 hectares in opium production in 2000, the year before the 2001 terror attacks, and before the U.S. initially sent military forces there. In 2016, according to the UNODC’s estimate, Afghanistan had 201,000 hectares in opium production—a 145 percent increase from 2000.