Afghanistan: UN human rights’ urges protection of civilians
KABUL/NEW YORK/GENEVA (Pajhwok): As Afghanistan finds itself in a paradoxical situation and the government should accelerate steps to and do more to protect civilians in the conflict, said Ivan Simonovic, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights on Wednesday.
In a statement, at the end of a seven-day mission to Afghanistan which took him to Kabul, Nangarhar and Kapisa provinces, Simonovic said: “Sadly, as the violence of the past week has shown, it will be Afghan civilians who pay the price, and more needs to be done to protect them.”
On the one hand, he lamented there are new opportunities for peace talks that would have been unimaginable only a few months ago but on the other, the conflict looks set to intensify as insurgents test the strength of the security forces hoping to gain leverage in future negotiations.
During his second official visit to Afghanistan, the Assistant Secretary-General focused on the increasingly difficult security situation following the withdrawal of foreign troops and the transfer of security tasks to the Afghan National Security Forces.
"2014 was already a terrible year for the civilian population of Afghanistan, and figures for the first quarter of 2015 have confirmed that negative trend,” Simonovic said.
According to preliminary figures compiled by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 655 civilians have already been killed and 1,155 injured in the first quarter of 2015.
“I met a number of children detained for conflict-related crimes, including attempted suicide bombing. I also met with civilian victims and their doctors at the emergency hospital in Kabul. And then I was in Jalalabad at the time of a ferocious suicide attack by anti-government elements on a crowded marketplace, killing at least 35 people,” Simonovic said.
“It is unacceptable that Afghans should face such violence on a daily basis. There can be no doubt that the use of tactics of this kind represent war crimes, and those responsible for organizing or perpetrating such attacks must be brought to justice,” he added.
He said that he was greatly encouraged by President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah’s personal commitment to ending torture in Afghan detention facilities, and the steps being taken to prepare a national action plan on torture prevention.
“These institutional reforms must be reinforced by strict accountability measures. Torturers must be prosecuted and punished, not transferred to other positions,” Simonovic added.
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