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Middle East & North Africa

Afghan women defenders call for accountability for ongoing and systematic human rights violations

Nazifa Jalali, along with ISHR, called on UN Member States to establish a mandated investigative mechanism to contribute towards accountability for the Taliban's human rights violations, and for States to continue to support Afghanistan’s human rights movement.

The statement made on 29 February during the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, commended the Special Rapporteur’s mandate which is instrumental in ensuring regular monitoring of the human rights situation in the country, and his report on the collapse of civic space, resulting from systematic and targeted arbitrary arrests and detention and self-censorship.

Despite noting some progress, assisted by Bennett, with some Afghan human rights defenders arbitrarily detained being released, the statement reminded the Council that many urgent cases remain, such as that of Rasoul Parsi Abdi. The statement called on States to protect human rights defenders from the Taliban’s rights violations, asking all States to continue to support, both politically and financially, the Afghan human rights movement and their long-term security.

The statement was clear in expressing concern about any reintegration of Afghanistan into the international community, stating that: ‘Human rights benchmarking should not lead to the legitimisation of the Taliban until there are measurable improvements of their respect for international human rights norms and standards, as well as a meaningful accountability process’.

The statement ended by calling for the establishment of a Human Rights Council-mandated mechanism to engage deeper into investigations and collection of evidence to contribute towards accountability for the Taliban. ‘There cannot be an inclusive and stable Afghanistan without justice and accountability’.

Jalali made the statement in the lead-up to a week of activities with women human rights defenders from Afghanistan, including a workshop for Afghan women defenders on UN Mechanisms, as well as a consultation with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan to feed into his upcoming report on ‘the phenomenon of an institutionalised system of discrimination, segregation, disrespect for human dignity and exclusion of women and girls’.

The statement also built on a joint submission made to the Universal Periodic Review of Afghanistan by WILPF and ISHR, which drew urgent attention to the ongoing gender persecution in Afghanistan by the Taliban, and the institutionalised framework of gender apartheid. Learn more about the Gender Apartheid Campaign here.

That same week the world celebrated International Women’s Day, during which Afghan women human rights defender Sonia Ahmadi said: ‘Afghan women epitomise courage, resilience, and unwavering determination amidst unparalleled discrimination and adversity. Despite facing systematic barriers, they continue to dream, hope and uplift their communities. Their voices are not only crucial but imperative to be included in every sphere’.

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