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Ghani signs decree ordering release of final batch of 400 Taliban prisoners

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2020)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday afternoon signed a decree to release the final 400 prisoners which will now pave the way for intra-Afghan peace talks.

The Presidential Palace (ARG) confirmed on Monday evening on Twitter that the decree had been signed at a ceremony attended by senior Afghan leaders.

Ghani said on Sunday, after the Loya Jirga’s resolution on the prisoner issue had been issued, that he would respect the decision of the Jirga and release the prisoners – some of whom have been accused of having masterminded some of the deadliest attacks in the country over the past 19 years.

In February, the US and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha which was a conditions-based deal in order to start negotiations.

One of the conditions on the Taliban’s part was that the Afghan government release 5,000 of its members.

Ghani duly did so but held back on the final batch of 400 who were seen as hardcore Taliban militants.

However, in the interests of working for peace, this weekend’s peace Jirga delegates, made up of over 3,200 tribal elders, community leaders and politicians, from around the country, decided the inmates should be freed.

The Taliban has said for weeks that once these prisoners are released they will agree to meet with the Afghan peace negotiating team.

Earlier Monday, government stated that talks would likely start on Sunday in Doha between the two peace negotiating teams. The Afghan government’s team is expected to leave Kabul on Wednesday.

Early Monday, the Taliban’s spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Reuters: “We are ready to sit for talks within a week from when we see our prisoners released. We are ready.”

It was not however clear on Monday night when the prisoners would in fact be freed.

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Afghanistan’s ‘cricket is proof that dreams come true’: ACB director

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Director of Cricket at Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB), Raees Ahmadzai said on Tuesday that with hard work and determination “dreams do come true” and that Afghanistan’s cricket is proof of this. 

Representing the ACB at a virtual meeting of the Asian Cricket Council, attended by both full-members and some associate members, Ahmadzai provided details on the country’s achievements and on its challenges. 

According to the ACB, Ahmadzai also discussed the enormous potential of talent in the country – especially with spin bowlers. 

He said: “Without doubt with hard work and determination, dreams do come true and Afghanistan Cricket is a living example of it. Afghan cricketers have been through various hurdles and struggles to enjoy its results today.”

The participants, which also included officials from the International Cricket Council (ICC), recognized Afghanistan Cricket Board’s efforts to promote the game in the war-torn country. 

The meeting came just a day after ACB’s acting CEO Nazeem Abdul Rahimzai met with the governor of Nangarhar Ziaulhaq Amarkheil to discuss progress around the construction of the new Behsud cricket grounds in Jalalabad. 

Construction started about six weeks ago and phase one, which involves the leveling of the ground, is expected to be completed in the next month. 

Rahimzai asked for the governor’s assistance on some issues relating to the project and “was fully assured of full support by the local government,” an ACB statement read. 

Amarkheil meanwhile said cricket in the province should be a priority and said the project would be completed on time. 

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Three suspects identified in public beating of two women in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

The Ministry of Interior said it has identified three security officials involved in last week’s incident involving two young women who were beaten in public in Kabul. 

In a statement issued by the MoI, the ministry said: “After investigating the case, the Crime Investigation Directorate (CID) identified one member of the security forces who was the main culprit in the case and two police officers who were negligent and irresponsible by not stopping the incident.”

The MoI stated that the case is being investigated by the CID but has also been handed over to the Attorney General’s Office. 

The incident, which took place in Kabul city, was caught on video and went viral on social media – which sparked an outcry among rights activists and members of the public. 

The two women were publicly hit by one man, while two officials in uniform stood by and watched. 

A number of other people also stood around and watched the incident unfold.

This comes amid increasing concerns relating to the preservation and strengthening of women’s rights and overall human rights in Afghanistan as the Aghan negotiating team continues discussions with the Taliban in Doha. 

Human rights activists and global leaders have all called for the achievements of the past 19 years to be preserved if any peace deal is made between the warring sides. 

 

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TikTok removes over 100 million videos from its app

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2020)

TikTok has had to remove over 104 million videos in the first six months of this year for violating its guidelines. 

About 37 million of these were from India followed by nearly 10 million in the United States.

TikTok says this is still less than one percent of the total number of videos uploaded on its app.

In the report, it adds that it took action on 96.4 percent of the removed clips before a user reported them and 90.3 percent of them didn’t have any views. 

The service’s algorithms automatically took care of and discarded 10 million of these clips.

“As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we relied more heavily on technology to detect and automatically remove violating content in markets such as India, Brazil, and Pakistan,” TikTok wrote on its website. 

TikTok’s content moderation practices haven’t always been effective, however. Earlier this month, the company was scrambling to suppress the spread of a viral, gruesome video that showed a man taking his own life with a gun, Digital Trends reported. 

With over 100 million users in the US alone, TikTok is now also a significant potential link for law enforcement agencies looking for personal data in investigations. In the US, TikTok received 226 legal requests, substantially up from 100 from the six months before 2020, from law enforcement or government entities for user information and content restrictions, 85 percent of which it agreed to comply with. 

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