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UN Concerns About Accounts of Taliban Ill-Treatment of Detainees

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2019)

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a statement expresses grave concern about credible accounts of Taliban subjecting detainees to ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture, as well as serious allegations that some detainees were killed.

According to the statement, reports also indicate that detainees were held in poor conditions and made to do forced labour.

UNAMA’s preliminary findings derive from face-to-face interviews with 13 detainees freed from a Taliban-run detention facility in Uruzgan on 25 April 2019 in an Afghan National Army Special Forces operation. They provided consistent accounts of the poor conditions in which they were held and credible claims of ill-treatment and torture, as well as the murder of civilians and security personnel, the statement added.

Multiple detainees reported the murder of at least 11 others by the Taliban, the statement noted.

“I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detention,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.

The statement further said the group of 53 detainees freed from the Taliban-run facility known as Kalatak, located in the village of Shira in the Khas-Uruzgan district of Uruzgan, included 45 members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and eight civilians, including three civilian government officials. Most of the detainees had been held since 2018, with three held since 2016.

All those released reported being shackled permanently. Some had scars on their ankles. All but one of the detainees interviewed by UNAMA reported being beaten. Some detainees reported that during the beatings the Taliban demanded they provide information or confess to specific acts. The remainder of the detainees said the beatings were punishment for what they were told was supporting the government, working with Americans or fighting the Taliban.

The statement said all detainees reported being held incommunicado and underground in five overcrowded rooms. Detainees said that for a minimum of seven hours a day they were forced to labour, including making improvised explosive devices, contrary to international humanitarian law.

Detainees said they were held in sub-zero temperatures during winter and were fed beans and bread twice a day, with no medical aid apart from some painkillers and antiseptics for wounds, the statement said.

UNAMA’s preliminary findings indicate that the conditions of detention and the treatment of the detainees contravenes minimum standards applicable to a party to a non-international conflict, read the statement.

“The United Nations reminds the Taliban that international humanitarian law applicable to international and non-international armed conflicts provides that all persons who do not take direct part in hostilities, or who have ceased to do so, must always be treated humanely,” said Richard Bennett, UNAMA’s Chief of Human Rights.

UNAMA is mandated by the UN Security Council to monitor places of detention, to promote accountability and to assist in the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms and human rights provisions of the Afghan Constitution and the international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party, the statement added.

Since 2011 UNAMA has monitored and reported on the treatment of conflict-related detainees. UNAMA publishes its findings and recommendations in reports jointly produced every two years with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The most recent report on the ‘Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghanistan’ was released in April 2019. UNAMA will continue to assess the situation of detainees that have been held by Anti-Government Elements as opportunities arise.

COVID-19

Gov’t officials don’t follow health guidelines, social distancing

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

The failure to comply with health guidelines and social distancing in gatherings by a number of high-ranking government officials has been criticized.

Citizens blame officials for being negligent to the Coronavirus, saying that their behavior is a sign of the government’s reluctance in the fight against the virus.

In the latest instance, the chairman of the High Reconciliation Council amongst other officials attended a ceremony without abiding by the health guidelines and/or social distancing.

That is, Salem Izadiar’s commemoration ceremony with the presence of high-ranked government officials and citizens, including high-ranking officials – without keeping any of the health guidelines in mind, is considered to be one of the main causes of Coronavirus outbreak.

Additionally, the Minister of Interior Affairs, who is considered as one of the key officials in the fight against Coronavirus, also attended a meeting in Baghlan, not taking into account any social distancing and/or health measures.

It is worth mentioning that recently Rashid Bashir, the police chief of Kunduz province, and Fahim Qarluq, the governor of Qala-e-Zal district the province, died of the virus.

The Ministry of Public Health has frequently expressed concerns over social non-compliance with health guidelines and its dire consequences.

On the other hand, the death toll from the virus has increased; however, only a part of the fatalities are officially recorded, but a larger proportion of Covid-19 positive or suspicious deaths are, for some reason, not reported at all.

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Dr. Ayaz Niazi’s assassination triggers queries

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

The assassination of Dr. Ayaz Niazi, imam of the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque, has raised questions and reactions.

Dr. Niazi became the target of an IED explosion at the mosque yesterday evening while preparing for the evening prayer.

He died at the hospital of deadly injuries.

A number of military experts have called yesterday’s incident a ‘political terrorist attack’ and blamed the security agencies for not preventing such attacks in Kabul.

Intelligence experts attribute the weakness in the intelligence agencies that leads to such horrific attacks.

President Ghani personally visited the Mohammad Dawood Khan hospital today and, while praying for the deceased and offering condolences to his family, he ordered security agencies to follow up on the incident.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry has announced the formation of a delegation to investigate the incident and arrest its perpetrators.

About Dr. Ayaz Niazi:

Dr. Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was 56 years old and was born in Yamgan district of Badakhshan province. At the age of twelve, he learned the holy Quran by heart. After high school, he joined Al-Azhar University in Egypt and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Islamic Economics. Also, he had a Ph.D. in Islamic Jurisprudence from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Dr. Niazi served as a professor at the Faculty of Sharia at Kabul University and as imam at the Mohammad Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque.

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Covid-19 impacts; Afghanistan’s exports on hold

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(Last Updated On: June 3, 2020)

Afghanistan’s exports to other countries have been stalled due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus and no alternatives have been considered yet.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) blames the government for failing to remove hurdles in Afghanistan’s exports, saying that the private sector will lose millions of dollars if trade with neighboring countries does not resume.

Officials in ACCI say that trade routes with neighboring countries have been blocked since the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the government has failed to find alternatives.

On the other hand, experts attribute the lack of work capacity in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan to the decline in exports to other countries.

“Officials at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan have failed to come up with a basic plan for exports and investment in the country,” experts say.

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the country, a number of countries, including Iran and Pakistan, have closed their borders with Afghanistan.

In addition to the cessation of Afghanistan’s exports, this act sparked prices to rise domestically.

Meanwhile, experts and traders believe that the government should look for alternative ways to keep the drift of export and import alive.

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