Death Of 9 Human Rights Defenders An Alarming Trend: UN Experts

Afghanistan must take early, decisive action to prevent the further killings of human rights defenders said independent experts from the United Nations (UN) as they called attention to the recent spate of such incidents.

“Already by August, Afghanistan has far exceeded last year’s figures,” said Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders on Friday.

Lawlor issued a joint statement with three other UN Human Rights Council-mandated Special Rapporteurs, Irene Khan, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, and Agnès Callamard.

“The killing of one human rights defender is a tragedy for society. The death of nine since the beginning of this year, shows the emergence of a truly alarming trend in Afghanistan,” the experts concluded.

“Impunity allows the perpetuation of such crimes and implies a lack of recognition for human rights defenders’ role in society,” the experts said, noting that investigations in many cases have not yet yielded any results.

“There needs to be full accountability for such egregious violations of human rights.”

Urging Afghanistan to take decisive action to prevent further killings of rights defenders, the UN experts drew attention to a recent spate of such deaths.

Asmatullah Salaam, who worked on promoting the right to education in the province of Ghazni, was abducted and killed as he made his way to celebrate Eid Al-Adha with his family on Aug. 1.

His death came not long after Fatimah Natasha Khalil, and Ahmad Jawed Folad, were killed in an explosion on their way to work at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, on Jun 27.

And human rights defender Ibrahim Ebrat was shot dead in Zabul in May.

“In January, the Government of Afghanistan voiced support for the idea of creating a national protection mechanism for human rights defenders, but no progress has been reported and clearly defenders are still no better protected than they were before,” said the experts.

“We urge the Government to urgently put in place, as promised, an effective national protection mechanism.”

It is the responsibility of every government to protect human rights defenders against armed groups, they added.

“Afghanistan must do better at detecting and acting on early warning signs, such as threats and intimidation, protecting others who find themselves at risk, and thoroughly investigating violence, including killings, when they happen,” stressed the Special Rapporteurs.

The independent experts said they are talking with Afghanistan authorities, and pledged to closely monitor the situation.

“We cannot allow these disturbing events to continue,” they said.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

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