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IBAHRI warns of potential Hazara genocide in Afghanistan and calls for Genocide Convention action

[International Bar Association]

The situation of the Hazara community in Afghanistan is of great concern to the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) following another targeted attack of female students from the minority community on 30 September 2022. Among the victims is a family member of a Hazara female judge who the IBAHRI evacuated from Afghanistan and is now resettled in Canada.

Earlier in the year, Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, director of the IBAHRI, Dr Ewelina Ochab, IBAHRI programme lawyer, and Emily Foale, IBAHRI project manager, worked on the Hazara Inquiry, a United Kingdom parliamentary inquiry into the situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The first report of the Hazara Inquiry, published August 2022, concluded that the Hazara, as an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, are at a serious risk of genocide. This finding follows an increase in targeted attacks against the community in Afghanistan as recorded in April and May 2022. The Hazara Inquiry warned of the risk of further attacks against the community.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed at least 19 students while sitting practice exams in a tutoring centre in Kabul, the Hazara people have been commonly targeted by the Islamic State–Khorasan Province (IS-K) and the Taliban.

IBAHRI Director and member of the Hazara Inquiry, Baroness Kennedy KC, commented: ‘The evidence of the specific targeting of the Hazara is overwhelming. The risk right now is that if we continue ignoring the evidence, continue to ignore the serious risk of genocide, we will see more targeted attacks against the community. If we are serious about our duties under the Genocide Convention, we must act. This includes taking Afghanistan before the International Court of Justice for its failures to prevent the genocide against the Hazara.’

IBAHRI Co-Chair and Immediate Past Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, commented: ‘The IBAHRI calls upon states and international actors to deploy all means reasonably available to them to prevent this genocide against the Hazara as far as possible, in accordance with the duty to prevent in Article I of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In the last months we have seen many such attacks, and the Taliban, the de facto authority, has not investigated them and those responsible have not been held to account. Sadly, we will likely see more attacks as a culture of impunity emboldens the attackers, leaving victims and their families without justice.’

IBAHRI Co-Chair Mark Stephens CBE stated: ‘The Hazara Inquiry put us on notice that there is a serious risk of genocide, and we must act in accordance with our duty to prevent. The situation of the Hazara in Afghanistan cannot continue to be neglected any longer. So often after tragedies of this nature hands are rung and platitudes abound of ‘‘never again’’. The international community is at that moment in time before horror on a much larger scale takes place. Under customary international law states must do all they can to prevent a possible genocide so that ‘‘never again’’ rings true.’


(c) 2022, International Bar Association


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