(Kabul) –The candidates for Afghanistan’s April 2014 presidential election should explain to voters their positions on major human rights issues.
Human Rights Watch distributed a questionnaire on December 2, 2013, to the 11 presidential candidates posing 17 questions on the country’s most pressing human rights issues. Responses received by January 2, 2014, will be posted on Human Rights Watch’s website.
“Afghanistan’s next president will inherit immense human rights problems requiring leadership and commitment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Afghan voters should demand that presidential candidates make explicit their plans to promote and strengthen human rights.”
Afghans will vote for a new president on April 5, 2014. Afghanistan’s presidential term limits bar current President Hamid Karzai, who has been in elected office since 2004, from running for a third term. The 11 candidates seeking to replace Karzai as president have formed election tickets with two vice presidents running with each presidential candidate. The field of presidential and vice presidential candidates includes several individuals implicated in serious human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
The Human Rights Watch questionnaire seeks responses on the following issues:
· security force accountability;
· women’s rights;
· transitional justice;
· Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission;
· torture and other ill-treatment by security forces;
· children’s rights; and
· Afghan refugee children abroad
The Taliban government in power from 1998 to 2001 was notorious for its violations of human rights. The Karzai government that took office after the fall of the Taliban pledged to comply with international human rights standards, but has failed to deliver on a large number of key rights issues.
“The upcoming presidential election is crucial in determining whether Afghanistan will have a future as a rights-respecting country, or whether abuses and impunity will continue,” Adams said. “When Afghans go to the polls on April 6, they will want know where the candidates stand on these critical concerns.”