NATO summit urged to speak out on rights abuses
LONDON (Pajhwok): NATO member countries should make a firm commitment to support human rights protections in Afghanistan beyond the end of the alliance’s combat mission post-2014, an influential human rights group said on Wednesday.
The NATO summit in Wales on Thursday and Friday is slated to discuss future alliance support for the Afghan government and a follow-up mission to train and advice Afghan security forces beyond this year.
The failure of the outgoing government of Hamid Karzai to institutionalise rights protections, the current electoral crisis, and inroads by Taliban insurgents pose a threat to the rights of women, the treatment of people in custody, and other areas of rights reforms since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement.
“The political and military turmoil in Afghanistan over the past year has shown the need for renewed international support for human rights,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at HRW.
He said NATO governments needed to make solid commitments to protect rights by supporting good governance and rule-of-law initiatives long after NATO combat forces left the country at the end of 2014.
Increased fighting in Afghanistan highlights the security concerns for much of the population. The United Nations recorded a 24 percent rise in civilian casualties for the first six months of 2014 compared with 2013, most caused by insurgents, with the Taliban deliberately attacking civilians they consider to be supporting the government.
The long-drawn-out election process for Karzai’s successor as president, still unresolved, adds to concerns of unstable governance.
At the summit, NATO countries should call for strengthened human rights monitoring and effective prosecutions for gross abuses by security forces, HRW said. Despite consistent and compelling evidence of torture, the Afghan government has not prosecuted any police or intelligence officials for the abuse of detainees.
NATO countries should urge the new government to: Establish an independent oversight and accountability mechanism empowered to conduct investigations into all allegations of torture and other mistreatment in custody; and create a national civilian complaints mechanism covering all Afghan security forces, including the armed forces, national police, the paramilitary Afghan Local Police, and other government-backed militias that would recommend cases for prosecution, and assist in vetting security forces’ personnel.
NATO countries should also speak out on continued abuses against Afghan women and girls, including domestic violence, child marriage, forced marriage, and severe constraints on freedom of movement and association, the statement added.
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