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Watchdogs call for immediate end to attacks on activists and journalists

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2021)

Amnesty International along with nine other watchdog organizations said in a joint statement on Wednesday that the Afghan government has failed to adequately respond to complaints of threats and early warning signals of attacks against human rights defenders and journalists.

“Defenders are faced with an impossible choice of balancing their commitment to work in their country with threats against themselves and their families,” the statement read.

“We call on the Government of Afghanistan to take greater responsibility to ensure the safety and security of defenders, activists, and journalists, and to end impunity for the attacks against them.”

The group stated “the timing of escalating attacks against human rights defenders, activists and journalists appears to be linked to the ongoing peace process between the Government of Afghanistan, the United States, and the Taliban”.

They said from September 2020 until May 2021, a total of 17 human rights defenders have been killed, including nine journalists.

During this period, over 200 human rights defenders and media representatives reported that they were receiving serious threats.

According to the statement: “These attacks are aimed at silencing peaceful dissent and those working on human rights, especially women’s rights, as well as those seeking justice and accountability for human rights violations.

In addition, the group said: “The attack targeting school children in Kabul on 8 May, is a devastating reminder of escalating violence against civilians, especially against women and girls.”

They also stated that with the announcement of an unconditional withdrawal and no progress on the peace process, the promotion and protection of the rights of human rights defenders and journalists does not seem to be a priority.

“The lack of respect for International Humanitarian Law and the absence of accountability for attacks against human rights defenders and activists, have only increased the danger to defenders and emboldened perpetrators,” they said.

The use of civilian targets for military gains was also slammed by the group who said the Afghan authorities and the international community must call on all
parties to end this and to safeguard the progress in human rights made over the last two decades so as to ensure they are not scaled back as a result of the
ongoing negotiations.

The group noted that civil society members, women human rights defenders and journalists often have had to relocate within Afghanistan and, in some cases, even temporarily leave the country with their families for safety concerns.

“State mechanisms for the protection of defenders including the recently appointed Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders have yet to be operationalized,” the statement read.

They also said much more must be done to ensure that the peace process takes into account the threats, harassment, intimidation and attacks occurring in the country and to ensure that it does not exacerbate people’s suffering.

“The crisis unfolding in the country requires a strong commitment to direct engagement and support for Afghan defenders to work and live in safety and dignity,” the statement read.

In turn, the group called on the Afghan government and relevant international actors to take certain steps, including that the newly established government-led Joint Commission deliver on its objectives to provide effective protection to human rights defenders at risk.

“We call for access to information on the measures that the Joint Commission has taken so far to provide immediate protection to defenders, investigate the threats against them and to bring suspected perpetrators to justice,” the statement read.

They also called on the Taliban and other groups targeting civilians and human rights defenders to immediately end the violence and prioritize intra-Afghan peace talks as a way to ensure sustainable peace.

The group also suggested the establishment of a national monitoring mechanism, and an impartial and independent mechanism internationally to investigate the killings of human rights defenders and journalists in order to clarify the circumstances in which the defenders were killed, and to expeditiously bring those responsible to justice.

In conclusion the group stated that effective representation of human rights defenders, especially women, needs to be ensured in any peace process that has a bearing on their security.

“Participation must include guarantees of safety, and effective and equitable representation of views.”

Signatory Organizations:

Amnesty International
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Civicus
FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
World Organisation Against Torture
(OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Front Line Defenders
South Asians for Human Rights
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights – Asia & Pacific
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

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2,000 kg drugs destroyed in Zabul

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

Local officials in Zabul say 2,000 kilograms of drugs seized recently were torched and destroyed in the southern Afghan province.

The drugs had been seized at a security checkpoint while being transported in Shah Joy district, said Abdul Sattar, head of operations at counter-narcotics department of Zabul.

He said that one person was arrested in connection with the smuggling of the drugs, and was referred for prosecution.

In a major crackdown on illegal practices in the country, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) supreme leader in April issued a decree banning the cultivation of poppies.

The decree stated that in addition to this, usage, transportation, trade, export and import of all types of narcotics are strictly banned.

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Pakistan to import gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan: report

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

The government of Pakistan, facing gas shortage as winter sets in, has worked out a plan to import liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) overland from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, Pakistan Today reported on Thursday.

The customs office in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, after consultations with stakeholders, sent a plan to the Federal Board of Revenue to import LPG across the Chaman border, the paper said, citing sources. The federal government is ready to take the big step of importing LPG from Turkmenistan and will allow entry of tanker trucks, the sources said.

Afghan haulers plan to drive empty Pakistani tanker trucks across the Chaman border to the border with Turkmenistan in Torghuni to fill them with LPG. They will then drive back to Chaman and hand the trucks over to Pakistani haulers, who will deliver the gas to the point of destination in Pakistan, according to the report.

The documents cited by Pakistan Today lay out three plans: immediate, short-term and long-term. Under the first, imports will begin immediately, while the short-term plan will require six to eight months and the long-term plan, which calls for setting up a station to load LPG into Pakistani fuel trucks, will take one year.

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Refugees minister visits Panjshir province

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(Last Updated On: December 9, 2022)

The minister of Refugees and Repatriation (MoRR) has traveled to Panjshir province and met with Mohammad Mohsen Hashemi, the governor of Panjshir, and other officials of government departments, institutions and influential people of this province.

On the trip to Panjshir province on Thursday and visiting the officials of this province, Khalil-ur-Rehman Haqqani, minister of refugees, said that the Islamic Emirate has no enmity with any ethnic or linguistic group.

He said that fighting in the past was to free the country from occupation, which has now ended.

At this meeting, Haqqani, while congratulating the victory of the Islamic Emirate and the consolidation of the Islamic system, asked the people and officials of Panjshir to continue living together with the spirit of brotherhood, friendship, intimacy and confidence.

He also emphasized that the enmity, war and struggle were for the consolidation of the Islamic system, providing security, defending the territorial integrity and ending the occupation, and with the consolidation of the Islamic system, there is no reason for enmity among Afghans.

The minister of refugees thanked the donor institutions for their cooperation and asked them for more assistance in the whole country, especially for the residents of Panjshir, and emphasized that the survey and distribution should be done in understanding and coordination with the MoRR and relevant departments.

He also visited Panjshir Immigrant Affairs Department and gave the necessary instructions to prevent corruption and solve the problems of returnees and displaced people.

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