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UN Concerned at Worsening Rights Situation

UN Concerned at Worsening Rights Situation

KABUL -The United Nations’ top human rights official on Tuesday warned that the human rights situation was worsening in Afghanistan, where the NATO-led combat mission is scheduled to end in 2014. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, a day after meeting President Hamid Karzai, told journalists in Kabul: “I do have serious concerns the human rights situation in the country is deteriorating.”

Fearing the gains made over the past 12 years could be reversed, Pillay said that she had heard apprehensions about a sharp spike in human rights violations. In particular, she explained women’s rights were being spurned. The UN rights commissioner said civil society activists in the country were increasingly worried the achievements of the past decade could be undone if the situation continued unchecked.

At her meetings with President Karzai and Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul on Monday, Pillay called for the protection of human rights, as NATO-led combat troops prepare to exit the country by the end of 2014. A spike in civilian casualties and attacks on women highlighted the government’s waning support for human rights, she said. “My concern that the momentum of improvement in human rights may have not only peaked, but is in reality waning, has not been allayed.”

Apart from endemic violence against women, the appointment of conservatives to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission offered a cause for concern, said Pillay. “It is essential the AIHRC is strengthened, not weakened, and I made a strong plea to President Karzai … to do his utmost to strengthen the position of the AIHRC before it comes up for review,” she continued.

She urged stepped-up efforts by the Karzai government to ensure the human rights gains of the past 12 years were not sacrificed to political expediency during these last few months before the election. A day earlier, Dr. Rassoul renewed the government’s commitment to protecting people’s rights in pursuing reconciliation with the Taliban. “The Afghan government will never compromise rights of the people,” the minister promised. (PAN)

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