Afghanistan: Appointment of Special Rapporteur an important first step towards robust UN oversight of human rights situation

8 October 2021, 13:20 UTC |

Responding to today’s resolution by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) establishing a Special Rapporteur to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: 

“Given the gravity of the human rights crisis enveloping Afghanistan, today’s resolution fell short of the robust response we had hoped to see from the Human Rights Council. An independent, international investigative mechanism, with powers to document and gather evidence for future prosecutions, is critical to ensure justice, truth and reparation for the crimes under international law and human rights violations that are being committed.  

“That said, the establishment of a well-resourced Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan is an important first step towards serious UNHRC oversight of the human rights situation on the ground. 

In response to civil society concerns around resources usually assigned to a special rapporteur, the Afghanistan mandate will be supported by a team with expertise in fact-finding, legal analysis, the rights of women and girls and of persons belonging to minorities, the right to education, forensics, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  

“We hope that with this additional support, the mandate will deliver effective monitoring and investigations into the many crimes under international law and human rights violations being committed in Afghanistan and that it will be a cornerstone in the quest for justice, truth and reparation for the people of Afghanistan,” said Agnès Callamard. 

“With the speed at which the situation on the ground is developing, it’s imperative that a mandate holder is appointed as urgently as possible and provided, in a timely manner, with all necessary resources to conduct their work.”  

Background  

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to create a Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan on 7 October 2021. The resolution was adopted by a vote, and supported by an overwhelming majority of Council members. 

In September, Amnesty International, together with over 50 national, regional, and international organizations urged UN Member States to establish a fact-finding mission or similar independent investigative mechanism for Afghanistan, following the failure of a special session of the UNHRC to authorize such a mechanism in August. 

Earlier this week, an Amnesty International investigation revealed how Taliban forces unlawfully killed 13 ethnic Hazaras in August

In a recent briefing, Afghanistan’s fall into the hands of the Taliban, Amnesty International detailed a litany of human rights violations committed by the Taliban, including targeted killings of civilians and surrendered soldiers, and the blockading of humanitarian supplies, which constitute crimes under international law. 

Amnesty International has called for the protection of thousands of Afghans at serious risk of Taliban reprisals, from academics and journalists to civil society activists and women human rights defenders.