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(London) -- Afghanistan’s perilous human rights situation demands ongoing monitoring by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch said today.

Human Rights Watch urged the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, now conducting its annual meeting in Geneva, to keep Afghanistan on its agenda and to increase the number of human rights monitors in the country.

“There is still a human rights crisis in Afghanistan,” said Brad Adams, Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “Warlords and armed factions still dominate many parts of the country and routinely abuse human rights, especially the rights of women and girls.”

Donor nations, and specifically the NATO countries, have been slow in meeting their commitments to Afghanistan. As a result, Afghans countrywide continue to complain about extortion and robberies by militias and political repression by local strongmen.

Increased human rights monitoring would be especially important with parliamentary elections planned for September. During presidential elections last year, the international community fielded only a small number of election monitors who were hard-pressed to lend legitimacy the process. Human Rights Watch documented intimidation of civil society groups and journalists during the presidential campaign. Parliamentary elections, which are more competitive at a local level, are expected to be more fiercely contested and thus more vulnerable to political intimidation.

Human Rights Watch called on the Afghan government to press for greater international support in monitoring human rights conditions throughout the country.

Human Rights Watch also urged the United States to help increase human rights monitoring. There are indications that the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva has opposed continued U.N. monitoring in Afghanistan by the U.N. independent expert on human rights in Afghanistan, Cherif Bassiouni. Bassiouni had criticized the United States last year for its policies of holding detainees in Afghanistan without legal protections.

“The U.S. should be helping Bassiouni and other U.N. monitors to do more in Afghanistan, not less,” Adams said. “Otherwise, U.S. opposition to U.N. monitors in Afghanistan could be interpreted as motivated as a desire to silence critics.”

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