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Afghanistan human rights and humanitarian crisis continues, urgent action necessary, says UN expert

[Wakil Kohsar | AFP via Getty Images]

After completing his 12-day visit to Afghanistan today, Richard Bennett, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, concluded that the country continues to experience a serious crisis and urgent action is needed from all parties to avert a further deterioration of the situation.

The objectives of the expert’s mission were to engage with all relevant stakeholders, update his assessment of the situation based on further consultations and site-visits, and look into potential for improvement, including through implementation of recommendations from his recent report to the Human Rights Council.

Following his latest mission, the Special Rapporteur will present an update with his observations and assessment on 26 October at the General Assembly, after which he will give a press conference.

The UN expert met widely with stakeholders during his visit, including human rights defenders, women’s groups, victims of human rights violations, including staff and victims from the recent attack on the Kaaj learning centre, journalists, businesswomen, teachers, religious scholars and representatives of minority groups. He also met the UN leadership in the country and other representatives of the international community.

The Special Rapporteur visited the provinces of Kabul, Bamyan and Panjshir, where local authorities, community elders, activists and journalists shared their concerns. He visited hospitals in Kabul and Panjshir and detention facilities in Bamiyan and Kabul to listen to prisoners, including women, medical personnel and prison officers.

The expert said most stakeholders had expressed grave concerns about the desperate situation of women and girls, increased attacks on places of worship, schools, transportation systems and minority communities, especially Hazara-Shia. The humanitarian situation remains dire and the security situation is fragile, with increased attacks on places of worship, schools, transportation systems and minority groups, and violations against civilians and combatant hors de combat in provinces where armed groups remain active.

The expert met with high-level de facto authorities, who assured full access to the country, to exchange views on the conclusions of his recent report and urged them to take immediate steps to address the concerns. Bennett highlighted, in particular, the rights of women and girls, especially girls’ secondary education, the need for an inclusive governance structure and accountability for all parties.

“I offered the authorities my advice to fulfil their human rights obligations under the international human rights treaties ratified by Afghanistan. The authorities affirmed their commitment to adhere to their international human rights obligations if they were not in conflict with Sharia,” the expert said.


(c) 2022, UN OHCHR

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