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UN Rights Body should urgently create rights monitoring body on Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch statement to HRC Special Session on Afghanistan

22 اگست، 2021 کو کابل، کے نواحی علاقے وزیر اکبر خان میں ایک چیک پوسٹ پر طالبان جنگجو ڈیوٹی دے رہے ہیں۔ © 2021 رحمت گُل/اے پی تصاویر

For years, the people of Afghanistan have faced violations and abuses by all parties to the conflict. In recent weeks, abuses by the Taliban have escalated. Even before their takeover of Kabul on August 15, Taliban forces were already committing  atrocities, including summary executions of government officials and security force members in their custody. In Kabul since then, they have raided homes of journalists and activists, apparently searching for those who criticized them in the past. In places around the country they have restricted girls’ education and women’s ability to work.

A situation so grave that it merits a special session of the Council demands a credible response. It is critical that the Council adopt a resolution creating an international monitoring and accountability mechanism to address ongoing abuses as a matter of urgency.

Yet, the only text on the table requests nothing more than a future discussion on a report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights that was already mandated.

For Afghan human rights defenders and women’s rights activists who are watching in horror as the rule of law crumbles around them, that draft resolution is more of an insult than a response.

Many states are understandably preoccupied by the evacuation crisis at Kabul’s airport - itself an indicator that human rights, including the right to life, are in jeopardy for those who remain.

But while the draft text was developed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, responsibility for ensuring a credible outcome rests with the Council as a whole.

As atrocities mount, failure to take meaningful action risks sending a message of impunity to those responsible. Down the track, how will members of this Council explain to families of victims that you had the opportunity – here, today – to make a difference, and chose to look away?

We urge the Council to heed the plea of Afghan human rights defenders and its national human rights institution and put in place the monitoring mechanism that is urgently needed.

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently underscored in his remarks to the Security Council: “We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan.”

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