Amnesty International (AI) on Tuesday blasted the Afghan government for not having delivered on their pledge to establish a functional body dedicated to protecting human rights defenders in Afghanistan.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the global rights watchdog said more than three months ago a Presidential Decree was issued on the establishment of a Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.
However “no practical steps have been taken to make it an effective protection mechanism, with a lack of information forthcoming on any plan or strategy to address the escalating threat faced by members of Afghan civil society”, the statement read.
Citing UNAMA figures, AI pointed out that an already “dire situation for Afghanistan’s human rights community has significantly worsened over recent months”, with no fewer than 11 human rights defenders and media workers killed in targeted attacks between the start of peace negotiations on 12 September 2020 and 31 January 2021.
The delay in having established a functioning mechanism “has already cost lives and there is no sign of the violence abating,” their statement read.
Meanwhile, Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, said: “The announcement of the Joint Commission was a vital step towards providing human rights defenders across the country with the support and security they so desperately need.
“But it’s a body that currently exists in name only. In more than three months, during which we have witnessed a frenzied escalation of killings, attacks and threats against activists, the Commission has made no tangible progress or taken any meaningful action,” said Mishra.
“This delay has already cost lives and there is no sign of the violence abating. The Joint Commission must urgently expedite its work and prioritize the immediate security needs of human rights defenders, investigate all cases of threats, attacks and other forms of intimidation, and hold those responsible to account.”
Amnesty International also called on the Joint Commission to ensure that, where necessary, human rights defenders are provided with adequate protection measures including relocation, relief and psychosocial support.
According to UNAMA figures, 14 human rights defenders were killed in Afghanistan in 2020. This includes Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed, CEO of Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan, who was shot dead on 23 December 2020 in morning rush-hour traffic in Kabul along with his driver, days after the Joint Commission was established.
According to its mandate, the Joint Commission has been established ‘for the purpose of strengthening human rights advocacy and addressing the national and international concerns of human rights-related issues in Afghanistan’.
“To achieve its goals and become worthy of its name, the Joint Commission must be provided with the necessary human and financial resources, and be fully supported by both the Afghan government and the international community,” said Mishra.
Health officials and experts meet in Kabul over spread of lumpy skin disease
A seminar was held in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock in Afghanistan.
Experts from Kabul University, along with representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Agriculture and Livestock and municipalities met Tuesday to discuss the dangers of this virus.
Delegates attending the seminar pointed out the need to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.
According to health officials, this virus is transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects but is not transmitted to humans.
“This virus has spread from eastern and southeastern provinces such as Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar, but currently, this virus does not have a vaccine, and fortunately, this disease does not transmit to humans,” said Shirshah Sadat, dean of Kabul University’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.
Nasir Ahmad, the representative of the Ministry of Public Health also said: “This virus is problematic for food health, especially for people suffering from malnutrition.”
“This virus is transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes and flies and the source of its transmission should be eliminated, and quarantine and vaccines are said to be good ways to fight this disease,” said Asadullah Samadi, a university professor.
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that a campaign to curb the spread of this virus will be launched in cooperation with international organizations in all provinces in the near future.
The virus has in recent years been detected in Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman and southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar and Ghazni.
The disease was endemic in many African countries for years, but spread to other parts of the world over the years. The disease first appeared in South Asia in July 2019, with Bangladesh reporting an outbreak. A month later, it was identified in India – which has the world’s largest bovine population – and then in China.
The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been termed “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide” by health experts.
Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash
Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday.
According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3.
The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered.
Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram.
Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded.
Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights
Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.
According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.
IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.
Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.
Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.
According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.
Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.
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