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Amnesty International calls for voices of victims to be heard

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(Last Updated On: September 9, 2020)

With peace talks poised to start in Doha between Afghanistan and the Taliban, human rights organization Amnesty International has called on both sides to include the voices of victims of the conflict so as to ensure their rights are respected in any deal made. 

The organization also called for women to be heard so as to preserve their rights. 

In a statement issued Wednesday, Amnesty International’s Director of the Office of the Secretary-General, David Griffiths said “for any peace talks to be worthy of their name, they must commit to delivering justice for victims and ensuring accountability for serious human rights violations. The participation of victims in these talks is a critical safeguard to ensure that their voices are not ignored.”

“Peace cannot merely mean a cessation of hostilities. For Afghanistan to break with its painful past and for wounds to heal, victims must have access to justice, with perpetrators held accountable,” he said. 

“A failure to address serious human rights violations committed by all sides in the conflict will not only betray the victims but also threaten further conflict.”

Amnesty International also called on the negotiating teams and parties to the conflict – particularly the government of Afghanistan – to ensure that the advances made on human rights over the past two decades are not rolled back, and that the human rights of all Afghans, especially women, are at the heart of any eventual agreement. 

“All efforts on women’s rights should aim to consolidate and further strengthen the ability of women to exercise their human rights fully.” the statement read.

The organizations stated that peace talks must also make a commitment to preserving and strengthening Afghanistan’s human rights progress over the past two decades.

They said any peace agreement must meet Afghanistan’s international obligations by upholding fair trials and the rights of women and girls, children, religious and ethnic minorities, journalists, and human rights defenders.

According to them, the Taliban has to date failed to make explicit and credible commitments to the human rights enshrined in Afghanistan’s constitution and international human rights law including the right to work, the right to education, the right to freedom of movement, the right to religion or belief, and the right to freedom of expression.

“There is no getting away from the fact that the Afghan authorities have failed to meet their own commitments to human rights, but there is also no denying that important strides have been made over the past two decades towards greater freedoms for women and girls, religious and ethnic minorities, journalists and human rights defenders, and on the right to education.

“Afghans, despite serious security threats, have been exercising their civil and political rights. These gains must be consolidated and not bargained away,” said Griffiths.

War Crimes

This comes after the United States sanctioned the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, for her continued probe into alleged war crimes by US troops in Afghanistan. 

On this note, Amnesty International stated that since 2003, the organization, along with other human rights groups, had documented serious human rights violations against Afghan civilians. 

They stated these violations include torture, disappearances, target killings and the deliberate targeting of civilians in war crimes. 

“Following a failure by the Afghan authorities to seriously investigate these crimes, the ICC stepped in as a “court of last resort”, Amnesty International stated. 

Unhappy about the sanctions against Bensouda, Griffiths stated: “The unconscionable sanctioning of the ICC prosecutor represents the latest attempt by the Trump administration to punish people seeking justice for crimes under international law in Afghanistan. In doing so, the USA has decided to shield perpetrators from accountability and abandon the victims.” 

He called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to stop “shielding perpetrators, support the ICC’s investigation, and commit to ensuring domestic justice to all victims of decades of atrocity crimes in the country. 

“If they are serious about delivering peace to Afghanistan, they must demonstrate that they are not afraid of delivering justice.”

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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Washington to review US-Taliban deal, Sullivan tells Mohib 

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke with Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib on Friday evening and said Washington intends to review the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year and to assess whether the Taliban is adhering to its commitments. 

In a statement issued by the White House following the discussion between the two NSAs, Sullivan said the US will support the peace process with “a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire”. 

Sullivan also made clear “the United States’ intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.”

According to the statement, Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

In addition, Sullivan and Mohib discussed the US’s support for protecting the gains made by Afghan women, girls, and minority groups as part of the peace process. 

Sullivan also “committed to consulting closely with the Afghan government, NATO allies, and regional partners regarding a collective strategy to support a stable, sovereign, and secure future for Afghanistan,” the statement read.

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Attacks are against the values of Islam, Atmar tells OIC chief 

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(Last Updated On: January 20, 2021)

Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar held talks on Wednesday with Yousef al-Othaimeen, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Saudi Arabia and discussed the current peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar. 

In a statement, the Jeddah-based organization said discussions were held on the peace process, and on how the OIC can support the talks. 

Al-Othaimeen reiterated the OIC’s commitment to supporting the Afghan people, and development projects in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Atmar praised the OIC for its role in forging unity among Islamic countries in support of the peace process and for issuing special resolutions to form a consensus among Islamic countries to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. 

At the meeting, Atmar called the war in Afghanistan illegitimate from the point of view of Islam.

“The crimes that are being committed in Afghanistan today are completely incompatible with the beliefs of Muslims and Islamic teachings; Attacks on female judges, killings of Kabul University students and attacks on maternity hospitals are certainly not justifiable in Islam,” he said.

Atmar also stated that if the opposition is truly committed to peace, the Afghan government would not see any obstacles to national reconciliation and the success of the peace process, and would be ready to pave the way for political participation on all sides in accordance with the free will of the Afghan people and internationally accepted standards.

“We want the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to continue its previous demands to end the bloodshed and resolve the political crisis in Afghanistan through holding follow-up meetings, expert consultations and sending special groups to consult with the teams,” he said. 

In response to the Foreign Minister’s remarks, the Secretary-General of the OIC said that he commends and supports the flexible and adaptable position of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan towards peace.

Al-Othaimeen pointed out that killing, violence and intimidation are contrary to the essence of Islam and that people should be made aware that Islam is not a religion of terror and violence, but a religion of unity and convergence. 

He praised the role of religious scholars in this regard, saying that scholars in Islamic societies have an important position not only from a religious point of view but also from a political point of view.

 

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