Officer-in-Charge of the Field Operations and Technical Cooperation Division of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mahamane Cissé-Gouro said on Monday that as Afghanistan was planned to move for a prolonged peace, civilians continuously suffered and lost their lives.
He delivered his remarks on the UN Human Rights Commission’s 46th session on Monday.
According to Cissé-Gouro Afghanistan remains among the deadliest countries in the world, and that the best way to save innocent lives was to stop fighting.
The targeted killings of human rights defenders and journalists had been particularly shocking to the world in the past few months and since the beginning of the peace process.
According to the report, Anti-Government militants should stop targeting media and civil society because they play important role in Afghanistan, the public needs their voices and opinions to be heard, and also the government should provide these sectors with space to operate.
During the meeting, concerns were raised over civilians being continued victims of war, and most of them being women and children.
Cissé-Gouro stated Afghanistan is at a critical point and is particularly crucial for Afghan women and their meaningful participation in the peace process must be ensured.
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission head, Shaharzad Akbar in return in a video message stressed the need for a ceasefire, real possibility of public engagement, and protection of civic space.
The threefold increase of the targeted killings in 2020 is extremely concerning compared to 2019.
Targeted attacks victims were mostly human rights defenders, journalists, media workers, and activists, prosecutors, and judges, including female journalists, judges, and activists, civilian government workers.
“Prominent activists are either being killed or forced to leave the country. Most attacks remain unclaimed and investigations are slow.
“While those who can, are leaving the country, many across Afghanistan felt silenced by fear and are constrained in their activism. This unimaginable attack on Afghanistan’s civic space is ongoing and the world is not doing enough to stop it.
“Meanwhile the Afghan negotiations in Doha are paused,” Shaharzad said.
“Afghans are desperate for peace but what will peace look like in absence of one of Afghanistan’s most important gains, its vibrant civil society, and human rights community? If this deadly trend continues, it will be even harder to protect human rights gains of Afghanistan during and after the peace talks” Shaharzad added that “We need the United Nations and the global human rights community to stand with Afghans and urge both parties to stop the violence, and continue engaging in talks”.
“For the peace process to be seen as credible by all Afghans, we need a ceasefire, a real possibility of public engagement and protection of the civic space,” she said.
New Thinking could save many lives and that peace talks were a historic opportunity to reduce violence, end war and its effects on the people, meanwhile, Cissé-Gouro noted that conflict in Afghanistan continuous to take a heavy toll and challenge social and economical progress.
Furthermore the COVID-19 pandemic hardened all of the challenges Afghanistan is facing.
This comes as a group of 35 of the cross-regional members of the Group of Friends of Afghanistan or the Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan condemned Targeted attacks and increased violence committed by the Taliban, Haqqani Network, or other terrorist groups.
“These actions impede the prospects of peace, undermine civil space and the freedom of expression, and obstruct the delivery of basic services to populations in need,” the statement read.
According to the statement “these heinous acts of targeting journalists and media workers, civil society members, civil servants, religious scholars, and intellectuals, many of whom are women, must stop immediately, and we call for the perpetrators to be held accountable”.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from September 2020 through to 31 January 2021.
Recent UNAMA reports indicated that at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were murdered in Afghanistan from September 2020 to 31 January 2021.
A total of 65 human rights defenders and media workers were brutally assassinated from 1 January 2018 to 31 January 2021, the statement indicated.
“We express our support to the people of Afghanistan and for their hopes and expectations of peace, justice, and development in the country. We express our strong support for the peace process in which the gains achieved in the past 20 years must be preserved and advanced,” the group was quoted in the statement.
The statement also put light on women in Afghanistan are at the forefront of society, youths are the only sources of change, and that the independent media plays a critical role in a democratic nation.
“Attacks against them are attacks against the shared values of the international community and the people of Afghanistan,” according to the group.
“We stand united with the people of Afghanistan and reiterate the international community’s strong condemnation of all targeted killings and attacks and other human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law,” the statement added, “We call on all parties to fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in all circumstances, in particular those related to the protection of civilians, including humanitarian and health workers, and to allow and facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access.”
The group has called for an immediate reduction in the violence leading to a comprehensive ceasefire, in line with Security Council Resolutions 2532 and 2565, and the need to bring an end to the conflict through an inclusive political settlement that ensures a sovereign, united, and democratic Afghanistan, at peace with itself, the region and the world.
The groups also called on a quick reduction of violence and ceasefire in line with Security Council Resolution 2532 and 2565.
The statement also stressed bringing an end to the war through an inclusive political settlement that would guarantee a democratic, sovereign, and united Afghanistan at peace with the region and itself.
The statement also stressed that ”all actors, to engage in the peace process in good faith and to translate their commitments to peace into tangible actions for the benefit of all Afghans,”.