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Urgent Interventions

Killing of Mr. Asmatullah Salaam, director of the civil society organisation Zhowand

AFG 003 / 0820 / OBS 088



August 4, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situationin Afghanistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informedby reliable sources about the killing of Mr. Asmatullah Salaam, director of the civil society organisation Zhowandand head of a local community council in Andar District, Ghazni Province.

According to the informationreceived, on August 1, 2020, Mr. Asmatullah Salaam was kidnapped by Taliban members while he was driving to Khwzeyo, Andar District, GhazniProvince, to visit his family for Eid celebrations. The kidnappers stopped hiscar and abducted him. His body was found a day later, on August 2, in Wahghez,with signs of severe torture.

Mr. Asmatullah Salaam was an emblematic figure among the young peoplehe worked with, was active in promoting education, and had recently started toimplement projects with the Afghan Ministry of Education through Zhowand. This isnot the first time that the organisation’s staff have been subjected totargeted killings. On June 22, 2019, Mr. Salaam’s predecessor, former Zhowanddirector Mr. Naqibullah Khaksar, waskilled in Ghazni.

The Observatory strongly condemnsthe killing of Mr. Asmatullah Salaam, which seems to be merely aimed atpunishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities in acontext of systematic attacks on Afghan human rights defenders, civil societyorganisations, and journalists by armed insurgent groups.

The Observatory urges theAfghan authorities to immediately carry out a thorough, transparent, andimpartial investigation into the killing of Mr. Asmatullah Salaam, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before anindependent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

The Observatory is particularly concerned by the alarming number oftargeted attacks against human rights defenders across Afghanistan and recalls that ina previous attack, the Taliban targeted two staff members of the AfghanistanIndependent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Ms. Fatima Khali and Mr. Jawid Folad, who died whenan improvised explosive device (IED) placed under their car exploded in Kabul on June 27, 2020[1].On June 3, 2020, Mr. Ibrahim Ebrat,representative of the CivilSociety Joint Working Group (CSJWG) in Zabul Province, was fatally shot in thestreet while he was returning from Ramadan prayers[2]. To date, no investigations have been carried out in relation to theirassassinations.

The Observatory calls on the Afghan authorities toimplement the strategy for the protection of human rights defenders, to whichthey publicly committed on January 20, 2020, and to put an end to the cultureof impunity that prevails in the country.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Afghanistan askingthem to:

i. Guarantee, in allcircumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all humanrights defenders in Afghanistan;

ii. Carry out a swift,thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the killing of Mr. Asmatullah Salaam in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before anindependent tribunal, and punish them as provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment,including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Afghanistan, and ensure thatthey are able to carry out their activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions ofthe UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assemblyof the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances therespect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional humanrights instruments ratified by Afghanistan.


· Mr.Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Twitter: @ARG_AFG

· Dr. Abdul Baseer Anwar, Minister of Justice, Email:, Twitter: @MojAfghanistan

· Ministry ofInterior Affairs, Email:, Twitter: @moiafghanistan

· H.E Mr. Nasir AhmadAndisha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to theUnited Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email:;

· Embassy of Afghanistanin Brussels, Belgium, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic missions orembassies of Afghanistan in your respective country.


Geneva-Paris, August 4, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by OMCT and FIDH. Theobjective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations ofrepression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both membersof, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanismimplemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergencyline:

· E-mail:

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 4355 18 80

[1] See Observatory Urgent Appeal AFG 002 / 0720 / OBS 075, published on July 1,2020.

[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal AFG 001 / 0620 / OBS 060, published on June 2, 2020.

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