Afghanistan: gross human rights violations deplored at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council

By Émile Kinley-Gauthier, FORUM-ASIA

The High Commissioner deplored the constant increase in attacks on civilians and on judicial personnel in Afghanistan at the opening of the session. In addressing the Council, Afghanistan did not deny these claims. Rather, it provided detailed statistics on the casualties and blamed terrorist networks for undoing hard-earned gains in the field of human rights made in the last fifteen years. This argument was repeated during two additional statements, on the rights of migrants and on violence against women, by Afghanistan at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council.

Although terrorist networks operating in the country represent a serious impediment to the realisation of human rights, it is also true that more efforts from the State are needed in this regard. Wide-scale gross human rights violations are more often than not committed in total impunity. Human rights defenders and journalists are regularly detained arbitrarily or harassed.

In his report, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association expressed grave concern at deadly attacks executed against members of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). This attack appears to be an act of retaliation for the human rights work of the members and had the potential to have a chilling effect on other activists in the country. The Government of Afghanistan did not answer the communication of the Special Rapporteur regarding this attack. This total disregard of the communication though did not stop Afghanistan from co-sponsoring a resolution on freedom of association (A/HRC/32/L.32) at the end of the session.

Afghanistan also sponsored a resolution titled Protection of the family: the role of the family in supporting the protection and promotion of human rights of persons with disabilities (A/HRC/32/L.35) and co-sponsored two additional resolutions on youth and human rights (A/HRC/32/L.1) and on internally displaced persons (A/HRC/32/L.13).