The top United Nations official in Afghanistan today welcomed the Afghan Government’s initiative in developing and implementing a national action programme for the elimination of torture, saying that it is the time for reform plans to be put into action.
“We reiterate that despite some improvements, the treatment of conflict-related detainees held in Afghan Government facilities remains of great concern,” said Nicholas Haysom, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in comments at a press event held to launch a conference in Kabul.
Participants at the two-day conference, organized by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) in cooperation with Amnesty International, are scheduled to discuss the implementation of Government planning related to the human rights of detainees, among other issues, including the rights of Afghan women.
Regarding women’s issues, Mr. Haysom called on the Government to ensure that all acts of violence criminalized under the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) legislation, and other relevant laws, are duly investigated and prosecuted.
“The National Unity Government has consistently stated a commitment to a reform agenda, which would consolidate and expand human rights protection,” said Mr. Haysom. “The United Nations warmly welcomes the public commitments made by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah to achieving this goal, especially their support for the empowerment and protection of women.”
The UN envoy also said that UNAMA recorded a 19 per cent increase in civilian deaths and injuries last year, and urged all parties to the conflict to make protecting civilians their “first priority.”
On peace and reconciliation, UNAMA’s chief reiterated the importance of human rights and noted that women must play a strong and active role in any peace process. “Both are critical if peace is to be sustainable,” he added.
“Participants here are all leaders, working to advance human rights,” Mr. Haysom noted. “This conference is an excellent forum for you to think about practical ways to ensure this vision becomes a reality.”
Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Abdullah Abdullah, also spoke at the press event, reiterating the pledge of Afghan Government to protect and defend the rights of Afghans. “Without protection of human rights and enforcement of social justice, Afghanistan cannot achieve peace,” said the CEO.
An estimated 500 Afghans and their partners gathered to hear the conference’s opening speeches, including those delivered by Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghan High Peace Council Chair Masoom Stanikzai, AIHRC Chair Sima Samar, European Union Ambassador Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin and Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty.