As a signatory to this open letter dated 4 September 2023, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has joined 63 human rights groups in addressing the grave human rights crisis in Afghanistan. The letter focuses on three critical demands addressed to member and observer states of the UN Human Rights Council. Firstly, it calls for the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. Secondly, we stress the urgent need to set up an independent investigation mechanism at the upcoming session of the Council (11 September-13 October). Finally, we stress the importance of continuing discussions on the fate of women and girls in Afghanistan.
Over the past two years, Afghanistan has witnessed an alarming increase in reprisal killings, executions, torture, arbitrary detentions, and enforced disappearances, disproportionately affecting human rights defenders, journalists, artists, and former government officials. In addition, forced displacement, repression of civil society, and persecution of minority communities may constitute gender-based crimes and crimes against humanity. These widespread violations occur with impunity, warranting a response similar to the Council's previous actions in Syria, Ukraine, Myanmar, and Iran.
We collectively call for the establishment of an independent investigative mechanism in Afghanistan to document these atrocities, hold the perpetrators to account, and ultimately help prevent further human rights violations. Such a mechanism would ensure that the majority of these abuses are recorded, that gender-based crimes are analysed, and that the culture of impunity among perpetrators is weakened. Most importantly, it offers victims and survivors hope of access to justice and of being heard. We urge Member States and Observer States to stand with the Afghan people and support this vital initiative.
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