Thursday, December 31, 2009


In the early morning of 27 December, ten Afghans were killed during a raid by Afghan and international military forces in Narang district of Kunar province. Many details of the incident remain unclear. Based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools. There is also evidence to strongly indicate that there were insurgents in the area at the time. UNAMA continues to investigate this incident to help bring clarity to the situation; I welcome efforts by the Government of Afghanistan and the international military to do the same. I appeal for calm while these investigations continue.
The United Nations remains concerned about night-time raids given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded, and the frustration of local authorities when operations are not coordinated with them. Night time raids are a source of great distress to the families which are directly affected as well as communities throughout Afghanistan given safety and cultural concerns. I continue to raise such matters with the concerned authorities.

UNAMA is equally concerned about the risks posed to civilians by insurgents living or operating in residential areas. They account for the majority and an increasing proportion of civilian deaths. I appeal again to all of the armed actors to make every effort to minimise harm to civilians and want to underline the importance of taking all precautionary measures to distinguish between civilians and combatants. Greater efforts must be made to reverse current trends so that civilians are spared the worst effects of armed conflict in the coming year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Afghanistan: Keep Promises to Afghan Women

Extremist Threat to Women Increasing, Government Failing to Protect
New York) - Eight years after the fall of the Taliban, women and girls suffer high levels of violence and discrimination and have poor access to justice and education, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The Afghan government has also failed to bring killers of prominent women in public life to justice, creating an environment of impunity for those who target women.
The 96-page report, "We Have the Promises of the World: Women's Rights in Afghanistan," details emblematic cases of ongoing rights violations in five areas: attacks on women in public life; violence against women; child and forced marriage; access to justice; and girls' access to secondary education.
"The situation for Afghan women and girls is dire and could deteriorate," said Rachel Reid, Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch. "While the world focuses on the Obama administration's new security strategy, it's critical to make sure that women's and girls' rights don't just get lip service while being pushed to the bottom of the list by the government and donors."
While the plight of women and girls under the Taliban was used to help justify the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, women's rights have not been a consistent priority of the government or its international backers. With fundamentalist factions in government gathering strength, the insurgency gaining ground, and some form of reconciliation with Taliban factions firmly on the horizon, the gains made by Afghan women and girls since 2001 in areas such as education, work, and freedom of movement are under serious threat.
"Women are not a priority for our own government or the international community," Shinkai Karokhail, a member of Parliament, told Human Rights Watch. "We've been forgotten."
Women in public life are subject to routine threats and intimidation. Several high profile women have been assassinated, but their killers have not been brought to justice. When Sitara Achakzai, an outspoken and courageous human rights defender and politician, was murdered in April 2009, her death was another warning to all women who are active in public life.
High profile women interviewed for this report say that they feel they are not taken seriously when they report threats. One member of parliament who, like some others, spoke anonymously because of the danger they face, told Human Rights Watch:
"I've had so many threats. I report them sometimes, but the authorities tell me not to make enemies, to keep quiet. But how can I stop talking about women's rights and human rights?"
A woman police officer who has received death threats said:
"They told me that they will kill my daughters. Every minute I'm afraid. I can never go home - the government cannot protect me there. My old life is over."
One nationwide survey of levels of violence against Afghan women found that 52 percent of respondents experienced physical violence, and 17 percent reported sexual violence. Yet because of social and legal obstacles to accessing justice, few women and girls report violence to the authorities. These barriers are particularly formidable in rape cases. Although women activists and members of parliament pushed hard and succeeded in putting rape on the statute books this year for the first time, the government has shown little willingness to treat each case as a serious crime or to engage in a public education campaign to change attitudes.
The lack of justice compounds women's vulnerability. One woman who was gang raped by a well connected local commander found that after a long fight to bring her rapists to justice, they were freed by a presidential decree. Soon after in 2009, her husband was assassinated. The woman told Human Rights Watch that he was killed because he had battled for her rights:
"I have lost my son, my honor, and now my husband," she said. "But I am just a poor woman, so who will listen to me?"
Surveys suggest that in more than half of all marriages, the wives are under age 16, and 70 to 80 percent of marriages take place without the consent of the woman or girl. These practices underlie many of the problems faced by women and girls, as there is a strong correlation between domestic violence and early and forced marriage.
A 13-year-old girl who was forced into marriage explained to Human Rights Watch that after she dared to escape she was hunted by her husband's family: "They came and asked for me to come back. I said no; they kept coming. I always say no... I can't go back. They want to kill me." Women activists who gave the girl shelter were denounced in parliament. Years later, the young woman is still fighting for a legal separation from her illegal marriage.
This case is just one in the report that illustrates the fundamental problem faced by women and girls of lack of access to justice. Studies suggest that more than half the women and girls in detention are being held for "moral crimes," such as adultery or running away from home, despite the fact that running away from home is not a crime in Afghan law or Sharia. But whether it is a high-profile woman under threat, a young woman who wants to escape a child marriage, or a victim of rape who wants to see the perpetrator punished, the response from the police or courts is often hostile.
"Police and judges see violence against women as legitimate so they do not prosecute cases," Dr. Soraya Sobhrang of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission told Human Rights Watch.
Law reforms that protect women's rights are important, but leadership is also required to help shift attitudes and prevent abuses, Human Rights Watch said.
"The government needs to take its responsibility to protect women and girls seriously," Reid said. "President Hamid Karzai has a lot of work to do to restore his reputation as a moderate on women's rights."
After the destruction of many girls' schools by the Taliban, education for girls became the most symbolic element of the international donor effort in Afghanistan. Despite significant gains, stark gender disparities remain. The majority of girls still do not attend primary school. A dismal 11 percent of secondary-school-age girls are enrolled in grades seven through nine. Only 4 percent of girls make it to grades 10 through 12. While the number of both boys and girls attending school drops dramatically at the secondary school level, the decline is much more pronounced for girls.
The diminishing status of women's rights in Afghanistan was forced back onto the agenda in March when the discriminatory Shia Personal Status law was passed by parliament and signed by Karzai. Faced with national and international protests, Karzai allowed the law to be amended, but many egregious articles remain that impose drastic restrictions upon Shia women, including the requirement that wives seek their husbands' permission before leaving home except for unspecified "reasonable legal reasons," and granting child custody rights solely to fathers and grandfathers.
"We welcomed the international community's words on the Shia law - really - they said many beautiful things, as they did in 2001" said Wazhma Frogh, women's rights activist. "We have the promises of the world. But still we wait to see what more they will do."
Karzai should revise the law to protect women's rights fully and appoint women who have been active defenders of women's rights to positions of power, Human Rights Watch said.
"The Shia law provided a timely reminder of how vulnerable Afghan women are to political deals and broken promises," Reid said. "Karzai should begin his new presidency with a clear signal to women that his will be a government that wants to advance equality."

Key Recommendations of "We Have the Promises of the World: Women's rights in Afghanistan"
  • The government and donors should make the promotion and protection of women's rights a main priority of the country's reconstruction and a central pillar of their political, economic, and security strategies.

  • The government, with the support of donors, should embark on a large-scale awareness campaign to ensure that rape is understood to be a crime by law enforcement agencies, judges, parliament, civil servants, and the Afghan public. The campaign should also aim to reduce the stigmatization of victims of rape.

  • The government should make marriage registration more widely available and compulsory.

  • The president should order the release of, and offer an apology and compensation to, all women and girls wrongfully detained on the charge of "running away from home."

  • The government, with the support of donors, should increase the number and geographic coverage of girls' secondary classes by building more girls' secondary schools, and ensure the recruitment and training of female teachers is accelerated.

  • The government, with the support of the UN and other donors, should prioritize security for women candidates and voters in planning for the 2010 parliamentary elections.

  • International donors and the United Nations, in conjunction with the Ministry of Women's Affairs, should conduct a full gender audit of all spending in Afghanistan.

Human Rights watch

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Urgent appeal to help our tortured and suffering Afghans

I’m a human like you!
By Zahra Sadat / Translated by Basir Bita
In a warm afternoon of fall, there were two guards talking with one another inside entrance of Human Rights Commission and, right in front of them there were a few men sunbathing. I straddled much faster to get the office, I’m working in, sooner. All of a sudden, a man wearing a threadbare, broken and scar in his forehead coming down his tears, making his face more emotional turned my eye-side and stopped me.
Scratching his stick on the street, walking by an invisible power, I, unintentionally, took some coins out of my pocket and handed him. He said nothing in response, starring innocently down, but he could no longer keep silence and blasted out.
“I’m sick.” He said in a very low tone.
“What happened to your forehead?” I asked while staring. He blasted out as if he found what he was in search during all his life.
“I went to Human Rights Commission.” He said, clearing streaming his tears. “I told them about the situation of my life and that I’m sick. They answered me, get away from our face. I told them, doctors believed I would recover as soon as I go abroad. Right after being recovered I would start working because I have six children. I would no longer let them be illiterate, prevent them to start begging. They said we can do nothing for you, why don’t you go Red Cross Office? This is out of our duty. I went there not only once but over again, but they answered as you do. Human Right Commission employee interrupted saying we do something else; that’s out of our responsibility. As leaving the commission, I felt down because my mind was bewildered, even I didn’t know what to do where to go.
Pity! Pity! “What do you do?” I asked him. “You can do nothing?” He notoriously answered, I can do anything if get a little better. Weekly, I have to spend more than 1500 Afs going to and coming back from Bagram if we don’t count the debts I have to pay. Nobody cares about us. I went to religious leaders, but nobody paid me attention. After waiting a long time to meet Mula Mohseni, a famous religious leader, he made me more depressed saying I, myself have to pay my debts. “God bless you”. He told me, “you’re used to beg”. “No, I’m not.” I told. “Only help me to become better. I would work then. Have you ever thought what would happen to my family if I was dead?” I showed him prescription and medical letters. He mocked me saying I would give you half of Afghanistan if you pay me only 20000 Afs. You are used to buy a cow’s entrails stinking, coming to Mula Mohseni. Oh, this made me regretful.

One day I got to Muhaqeq. He told, we would cure you through Red Cross. This was a momentary morale. But in other turns, meaning, for other times, they only gave me little money in order to make me oblivious. I went somewhere else, and I was replied, here is where we play political affairs not a charity. When I go a charity or places like these, I hope I would never come to exist. But when I think of my family I become confused. I have to bear and live as I’ve done so far when Human Rights Commission, Red Cross, my religious leader and others don’t care about me.
I told to my self, he’s right. How could our leaders stay against each other black propagandizing if they help people like me?
There is a great deal of people living as Faqir Ali, but no Afghan official worry about such cases in Afghanistan. We hope at least you, as a reader, could help one of our tortured and suffering Afghans.

Faqir Alis No: 0093 700239122
His Bank Account No: 100803100070921
Bank Name: Bakhtar Bank Afghanistan.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Urgent appeal to help Afghan refugee children in Greece

Winter is here, and children fleeing a terrible war, are living on the streets in desperate conditions. Lend your voice to those who cannot speak.

by Basir Ahang & Kabul Press

We all know what happens in Somalia, Afghanistan, Eritrea and many other countries devastated by war. At the heart of havoc, more victims are, as always unfortunately happens, children. They believe too often that when they reach Europe, the right to a peaceful life is guaranteed, because there are rules that expressly protect their rights. Unfortunately this is not true.
In Greece, a boy of only nine years old, too mature for his age, told us that when he had left Afghanistan he believed his troubles would be left behind; and only now he understands that the real problems are just beginning. This child still lives in the middle of a street in Athens, and his testimony was recorded during the course of an interview we conducted last August, when we went to Greece to conduct a journalistic investigation into the Afghan refugee situation.
There, we unfortunately saw the most serious violations of human rights experienced of all refugees, including Somalis, Eritreans, Iraqis, and Iranians, not just those from Afghanistan.
But here we want to dwell on the most intolerant part of the story: the situation of children. Sixty families are currently living on the streets of Athens, many of them in Athiki Park, and inside the sewers near the train station. Among them are babies who need healthcare. Sometimes you see them in the center when the market ends, picking up discarded fruit and vegetables from the asphalt, or rummaging through the garbage to find anything edible.
We had the opportunity to interview some of these families, who although a bit reluctant, granted us brief interviews. They tell of a continuous coming and going of European journalists who want to know what is happening in Greece. The information seems to fall on deaf ears, and the situation does not change; it only gets worse.

The repeated attacks in the park by armed groups of extreme right wingers against foreigners exposes these families daily to real physical danger, as real as what we had the misfortune to witness; the stabbing in the centre of Athiki of a young Afghan, and the beating of others (including one woman).
The question now is: Where are the Greek police in this? We discover the answer, noting the indifference and the support, of the "police," who in situations of physical, psychological and verbal attacks on refugees, suddenly forget their duties and international law. Another fact that emerges during the interview is that when families visit a hospital to request medical attention for their children, it will be only be granted after obtaining the fingerprints of the child; thereby limiting its refugee options to the hell of Greece.
But there’s more: at the time of our stay we discovered the fact that about thirty families with small children were in prison for trying to leave their miserable stopover in Greece, on ships heading to Italy. Is it legal to detain minors in prison? Given the situation, maybe yes, in Greece. Currently, nearly 350 people (number provided by the president of Nur, which provides support and advice to Afghan refugees) have returned to Patras to hide in a forest. Among them are also unaccompanied children, some just nine years old. This is because the Greek police pursue all refugees, and in Greece the right to asylum does not exist.
After interviewing members of Doctors Without Borders and members of the Greek humanitarian association, Kinisi, everyone seems to be very worried about the situation. In the last action taken on asylum by the Greek government, which is socialist in name only, entire families, men, elderly, women and children were deported en masse to Afghanistan, in deliberate defiance of international conventions and treaties. Many people have contacted us recently. They fear for their children and now that winter is upon them, the situation is becoming more grim. How can we respond to these people?
Many articles have been written about this situation, but always, too little attention is paid to these shameful human rights violations of adults and especially of the children. Conventions, declarations, and laws exist— the problem is that they are not observed.
We believe now that perhaps the only possibility is to unite our forces, because this must not be allowed to occur before our eyes—that Greece, which has the nerve to call itself “Europe” and attend “European Councils” acts in such an illegal and inhumane way. It is time to put pressure on the media and governments to change the situation. Now you also know. Don’t be a hidden accomplice of their deadly silences.
Tell the Greek government to honor international laws on fair and humane treatment of Afghan refugees who have landed in their country.

In the United States, contact The Embassy of Greece in Washington, D.C. Phone: (202) 939 1300, Fax: (202) 939 1324 and (202) 939 1562 E-mail at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

State of the World’s Children Report Kabul launch – 22 November 2009

22 November 2009 - Transcript of press conference held at UNAMA in Kabul by UNICEF's Catherine Mbengue, the EC's Hansjorg Kretschmer and EU Special Representative Ettore Francesco Sequi and Svante Kilander, Ambassador of Sweden to Afghanistan/EC Presidency on the State of the World's Children report.

Good morning everyone and welcome to the Afghanistan launch of the Special Edition of the UNICEF flagship report: ‘State of the World’s Children’ – celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). I am extremely gratified to be joined by three distinguish guests: His Excellency Dr Hansjörg Kretschmer, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Afghanistan; His Excellency Ettore Francesco Sequin, European Union Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan; and His Excellency Svante Kilander, Ambassador of Sweden, EU Presidency. I am very gratified that we also have Paola Retaggi, who is working with Terre des Hommes, one of the key partners of UNICEF, the government and all child activists in this country as far as the Convention on the Rights of Child is concerned. The report was launched in New York on 19 November by UNICEF Executive Director Ms Ann Veneman, accompanied by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Hollywood actress Lucy Liu and Grace Akallo, a former child soldier from Uganda. The Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted on 20 November 1989 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history and articulates the full complement of civil, political, cultural, social and economic rights for all children. The report addresses three main questions: First, what difference has the Convention made to the lives of children over the past two decades? Second, what is its role and relevance now in the face of the worst economic crisis in 90 years? Finally, what role can it have over the next 20 years and beyond, in an increasingly populous, urbanized, disparate and environmentally-challenged world?

The convention has four core principles:
The right to survival and development
The respect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration;
The right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them; and
The right of all children to enjoy all the rights of the Convention without discrimination of any kind. These principles guide the actions of all stakeholders, including children themselves, in realizing children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation.

The Convention and its principles have influenced national and local legislatures, motivating governments worldwide to place children’s rights and development at the forefront of their legislative agendas. The most outstanding achievement in child survival and development has been a reduction in the annual number of under-five deaths, from 12.5 million in 1990 to less than nine million in 2008.
Afghanistan ratified the Convention in 1994, changing forever the country’s legal landscape by paving the way for its implementation for the benefit of the children of the country. Since then, we have seen some good progresses towards making the convention a reality for Afghan children. While we celebrate these achievements, which were accomplished due to the partnership between the Government , the people , non governmental organizations, civil society and international community, we remain mindful, that more needs to be done. We must work with an increased sense of urgency, to make the rights of Afghan children come true – too many of them still face violations of their basic rights in our communities. Family and community, civil society and media, development professionals, governments and international agencies, the private sector and youth are the key stakeholders in making the 54 provisions of the CRC a reality for the children of the world and Afghanistan. The roles of these actors are explored by the Report in a series of ten guest essays. Four European Union Commissioners – Jacques Barrett, Louis Michel, Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Javier Solana – have contributed four essays to the Report, in which they state the case for putting child rights higher up in the EU agenda. In line with this global movement for Children and on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Convention, the European Union and UNICEF Afghanistan, sign today a Declaration. This Declaration reiterates our commitment and partnership to continue to work with all stakeholders to make the 54 provisions and principles of the Conventions a reality for all children in Afghanistan and in the world. The declaration invites all of you to join this movement – so that we can work collectively for and with children, and together create a world fit for children here in Afghanistan and throughout the world.

Thank you very much, I am very pleased about the high turn out in journalists and cameras as this is certainly a subject which deserves our full attention. About 50 per cent of the population of Afghanistan is below 15 years of age and that already indicates the importance of the attention we dedicate to the faith of children in this country. What we fail to do in favour of these children will with no doubt reflect on the future of the entire country in a couple of years. But there has been some progress in the sense that Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and also the two optional protocols. The situation for the children in this country is still dramatically so bad that the recent article which was published by Reuters says that Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to be born in. In terms of infant mortality and below five mortality, Afghanistan is still more or less at the bottom of the world league of nations. Child labour is a very prevalent phenomenon. We do not have precise statistics on that but we know that there are a high number of children at work. There is a big problem in this country about sexual exploitation. The child protection action network handled in 2008, 1,459 cases but we can be certain that it is only the tip of the iceberg. And children are also being used as suicide bombers. Certain achievements without doubt have been made over the last couple of years. In terms of education, we are all proud that there are six to seven million children who are at primary schools but we should never forget about the quality of education they receive, the number of hours is very small, the quality of teachers is very poor and in certain seasons teaching is not possible at all because of the climatic conditions. There has been some progress in juvenile justice with the introduction of alternatives to detention for children. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in 2008 adopted a National Strategy for children with disabilities As far as the European Commission is concerned we have acted in the area of child development and children’s rights since 2003. A first big project with the child rights consortium of different NGOs ran from 2003 to 2008 for which we disbursed 5.8 million Euros and reached 14,500 children, essentially street children and working children in Kabul and also in Torkham. This project included elements like health checks, recreational activities, non-formal education and vocational training skills. The basic package of health services which is spread all over the country and is shared by the Commission together with the World Bank and USAID has a very important mother and child health component which in the end has led to the reduction of infant mortality down from 2.5 per cent to 1.9 per cent and the reduction of below five mortality – 1.6 per cent mortality to 1.3 per cent. Still these figures are very bad. But, as I said, it is significant improvement. Finally, in 2008 the European Commission launched a social protection programme which will have a value of 24 million Euros over a period of four years and in this context the issue of children is also among the most important. Of this amount: eight million Euros again goes to the child rights consortium which will deal with working children, with neglected IDP children and Kuchi children, with children in conflict and also looking at the issue of alternatives to detention in the law and social services to those which are in juvenile rehabilitation. This social protection programme also includes elements dealing with women at risk which has a special component for over age children of women who are in prison and a component for the social integration of the disabled which is also related to children in six different provinces of the country. These are the important efforts by the European Commission. There are similar efforts undertaken by other donors, but overall we must admit that these amounts are very small compared to the total funds which are flowing into Afghanistan for military purposes and do not constitute unfortunately more than a drop in the ocean. I must say that the innocent smiles of the children who sell trinkets to you in the street or who try to clean the screens of our cars deserve better because they are the future of this country. If we do not help them in an adequate way the future of the country indeed will be very bleak.

It happens very frequently that views that my friend Hansjorg Kretschmer has raised are exactly my same views so I will be extremely brief. First of all I am extremely happy to be here in the premises of UNAMA because for four years I worked in New York and dealt with the Third Committee which is exactly the committee that focuses on the rights of children. And I used to prepare for sometimes the words for the president of the Committee on the Rights of Children who sits in Geneva. The previous speakers have stressed that the situation is very serious, they also stressed that there are improvements. The question is: are we doing enough? When you speak about illiteracy, when you talk about health services, when you speak about labour then we need probably one thing: we do not stress enough the dimension of the development because without development it would be much more difficult to address all these problems. As Hansjorg said: Afghanistan has a very young population. I would give other figures that if the present demographic indicators continue in 10-15 years, 75 per cent of the population will be younger than 18. And it is extremely important to stress the sense of urgency. If we don’t act now we shall lose a generation. And we cannot afford that. Therefore I would like to do two appeals: the first is to the Afghan government to focus on these priorities, the priorities of roles and the situation of children. I think that in cooperation with UNAMA we need to encourage the government to intensify their efforts to prosecute all the perpetrators of crimes committed against children and to give in their programme the priorities to the issues we are discussing today. The second appeal is to the international community. There is a word which is very popular in the last few months which is surge. I think that what we need is a surge of attention and a surge of commitment of the international community. I read a very strong sentence of a child working in the streets – not in Kabul but in another country – but I think this could be applied to all the children in the same position. He had a few things stolen from him. He said “well I have nothing else to be stolen because my life is already stolen.” I had a chance to speak with President Karzai sometime ago about children. We are both fathers and it was an issue that we shared: the role and the situation of children and I found him very committed and very aware of the need to address this issue and to give the priority to that. In one conversation, the substance of the entire problem, at the end, came to the rights of the child. And the substance, I think, was the right one: the right of a child is the right to be a child.

SVANTE KILANDER, AMBASSADOR OF SWEDEN TO AFGHANISTAN/EU PRESIDENCY Thank you very much for having taken, Catherine, this initiative, indeed on these extremely important questions. Ettore said it is very difficult to follow up and say something on the wisdoms which Hansjorg has said. For me it is even more difficult to follow up something on what two of my colleagues have said. As Ettore said: we share the same values and we are pronouncing some accents rather than anything else. One basic principle here is that all European Union member states are also members of the United Nations. In Sweden‘s particular case, we were many years longer members of the UN than we have been of the European Union. But nevertheless we belong to the same family or to the same two families. In a context like this, when Sweden, when the European Union cooperates with the United Nations or share the same ideas as the United Nations, from the Swedish side, we usually put forward a grassroots perspective and I wonder if there is any context which is more related to real, the essence of grass root, than when we are dealing with children and children’s right. It is the fundamental, the basic issues for societies, for a society to develop. We speak about development and we speak about children’s rights and we speak about the combination of these, and it has already been mentioned here, the very important issue when we deal with UNICEF’s matters, with children’s matters, is the right to be a child, the right to the identity of a child, the right for a child not to immediately take on the responsibility of adults. From a Swedish perspective, when we deal with these matters it is very easy to come to think of one of our greatest writers, one of our greatest authors, who, let me say, specialized or who was the advocate of children. I would say 50 or 60 years ago, when she started her career as a writer, she introduced this into Swedish literature and to literature as a whole I would say, to put forward the ideas and the thoughts of children and this is now a part of world literature. And I will conclude there by saying that, whenever we deal with children and children’s rights, it is the child’s perspective which must be the guiding star. If we start from there, and with UNICEF, with the UN as a whole, within the European Union, and together with Afghan government and Afghan NGOs, the civil society, that is a necessary and a very good start for a continued work on children’s rights.

PAJHWOK NEWS AGENCY [translated from Dari]: The reports that have been released by human rights groups recently show a high number of children being tortured or violated mostly by the national police and army. The reports show as well the opposition of the Government to using children as suicide bombers. I just want to know which actions and measures the United Nations are going to take to solve this?
UNICEF: It is a problem, indeed. As you know, we have now, luckily, a task force in Afghanistan. As you may know, last year, Afghanistan was put on the Security Council agenda under what we now call Resolution 1612, which, indeed, looks at the way war is impacting on children. We have a series of issues which are looked into, these two resolutions and, of course, Afghanistan is supposed to prepare a report for the Security Council for those items, which are: killing of children, sexual violence against children, and recruitment of children. We try to do this monitoring, and, then the report goes to the Security Council, including some recommendations. When the report comes back we discuss this with the Government and the various partners in order to address some of these issues collectively. I think the Excellencies here also mentioned the Child Protection Network, which is really a network of people working on child rights and child issues in this country. It includes the Government, civil society, national and international NGOs, and also child rights activists. They collect all the information related to the violation of child rights, issues which link to child rights, in terms of abuses and so on. Figures have also been given by the head of the European Commission here. These figures are then brought together, discussed, and made known, not only to the Government, but to all. Some of the violations of children’s rights start at home. We should not forget that. So all these issues are discussed and brought together.
ARIANA TV [translated from Dari]: My question is for the head of the European Commission in Afghanistan. You mentioned that above the assistance of the European Union for the children of Afghanistan, the Commission is also providing some money for different causes. Can you give us some figures about how many children have their rights violated, and also in which perspective their rights are violated? Are they used as child soldiers, for illegal labour, or are there other problems on top of that?
EC: All of what you mentioned is of course examples of abuse of children. It can be child soldiers, child labour, sexual exploitation of children, and all of this happens in Afghanistan. I believe nobody has to expect numbers, because the number of children we are dealing with within our project is of course very limited. I mentioned this programme from 2003 to 2008, covering 14,500 children, but there are other figures around, this enormous grey zone where we don’t have any figures about abuses of children. Certainly there is, in many areas of Afghanistan’s public life, a big difference between what is said in the laws, and the reality. I think that what is important, in relation to children, is that everybody has to work for them, you, as media, and also each individual who is concerned about this issue. We have to change minds. We have to bring everybody in Afghanistan to the conviction that children should not be used as tools, as instruments, they should not be exploited. Each child has a personality of its own, and we have to respect this personality, perhaps more than the personality of all the people, because a child is much more susceptible to shocks. So as long as everyone in Afghanistan, everyone who has responsibility for the future of this country doesn’t have this mindset, I think we don’t have a great hope in terms of children’s rights in this country. These are the fundamental things that projects can do and we can all do very small things, but the very big thing is to make all Afghans aware of the value of the children, and of the fact that children are the future of the country. 75 per cent of Afghans will be below the age of 18 in 2025, so we are talking about this part of the population that constitutes Afghanistan in a couple of years. If they are abused, if they are traumatized, if they don’t feel having a personality which is allowed to develop, it will be a disaster for this country, so we all have a responsibility, the donors, the Afghan politicians, those who are responsible in Afghanistan, and each Afghan citizen.

TOLO TV [translated from Dari]: All the issues related to the child protection and child rights are mentioned here but in Afghanistan the situation is worsening day by day and you don’t see any single day that children are not working on the streets. Don’t you think that Afghanistan is one of the world’s dangerous places for children? If it is in which category does it come among the other countries in the world?
If I can say something to that I think you are right. The situation is not improving for the children but we also have this progress in terms of schooling and the schooling of girls and so on. These are of course steps forward but the dramatic economic situation is not helpful in terms of promoting the well-being of children because it has of course also had a strong impact on the minds of adulthood. But it is very difficult to make a ranking among the nations of the world since certainly we don’t know the details of the all poor countries in the world but I would think that Afghanistan is ranking very, very low in the scale of 190 or 195 nations of the world and it is not only the donors I think in this respect each and everyone is responsible to treat the children as they deserve to be treated.

Friday, November 20, 2009

President Karzai must commit to human rights

Amnesty International urges Afghanistan’s newly re-elected President Hamid Karzai to prioritize human rights and the rule of law in his second term in order to strengthen the country’s stability and security.
“Afghans from around the country continue to tell us that they suffer from poor governance, endemic corruption, a weak and inept justice system and lack of respect for human rights and rule of law,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “All these factors weaken support for the government and its international allies.”
Amnesty International noted that the recent presidential elections were marred by human rights abuses by the candidates as well as the Taleban's increasing attacks against civilians. The organization raised concerns that the upcoming parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for August or September 2010, faced potentially even greater human rights violations as well as Taleban violence.
“Government officials and parliamentarians suspected of serious human rights violations and war crimes are enjoying blatant impunity. Many are also widely believed to be involved in corruption and criminal activities, but are rarely held accountable,” said Sam Zarifi.
“In order to rebuild the trust of the Afghan people and the international community, government officials and parliamentarians suspected of serious human rights violations must be kept out of the election process and held to account.”

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Iran moves to execute Afghan man for crime committed when he was 17

The Iranian authorities are planning to execute a man alleged to have killed when he was only 17 on Monday. Amnesty International has warned that the execution, in Mashhad, north-eastern Iran, of Afghan national Abbas Hosseini must be stopped.

Amnesty International condemned the Iranian authorities’ moves to once more violate its international obligations by setting a renewed date for the execution of a juvenile offender.

“It is sickening that Iran continues to flout international law by arranging to kill those who committed crimes as children,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International.

“We appeal to the Head of the Judiciary to issue, with immediate effect, an order to stay this execution and to ensure that Abbas Hosseini’s death sentence is overturned.”

Abbas Hosseini’s June 2004 death sentence imposed by Branch 43 of the General Court in Mashhad for the murder of a man who had tried to rape him in July 2003 was upheld by Branch 41 of the Supreme Court on 30 September 2004.

He claimed before the court to have committed the crime "in a moment of insanity", but this was rejected.

He was due to be executed on 1 May 2005, but at the last minute was granted a one-week stay of execution to give the victim’s family another opportunity to accept payment of diyeh (blood money).

At the same time, the Head of the Judiciary ordered the local judiciary in Mashhad not to proceed with the execution and Abbas Hosseini’s case was sent for review.
On 27 April 2008, Branch 13 of the Supreme Court sent the case for retrial on account of Abbas Hosseini’s age at the time of the crime.

Nonetheless, he was sentenced to death once again on 5 August 2008 by Branch 103 of the General Juvenile Court in Mashhad.

This sentence was upheld on 29 December 2008 by Branch 33 of the Supreme Court and has been given final approval by the Head of the Judiciary, paving the way for the scheduling of his execution. The victim's family are refusing to pardon him in exchange for monetary compensation in the form of diyeh.“Not only has Abbas Hosseini been sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was a child," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. "But the protracted judicial uncertainty surrounding the review and retrial of his case, and the halting at the last minute of his scheduled execution which has led to him languishing on death row in prison since 2004, compounds his suffering.”

Since 1990, at least 41 alleged juvenile offenders have been executed in Iran and over 140 are known to remain on death row. At least three have been executed so far in 2009, in breach of Iran’s international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which unequivocally ban the execution of juvenile offenders.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The killing of a Journalist is a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of the media and civil rights in Afghanistan

On September 9th Mr. Sultan Manadi, a committed Journalist and former colleague of the Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN), was killed during a military rescue operation by foreign forces in Kondoz province of Afghanistan. Sultan Manadi and Stephen Farrell, a British national journalist, were kidnapped by Taliban militants from Essa Khel village of Chahar Dara district last Saturday. The reporters were in the district in order to ascertain information about a deadly NATO air strike that had killed about 95 people and wounded several others on Friday September 4 th.
The killing of Sultan has shocked civil society, Afghan intellectuals and the human rights community in Afghanistan . Sultan's killing indicates a lack of commitment on the part of the Afghan government to its citizens who work for civil freedom, the expansion of which has been one of the main achievements in Afghanistan during the post-Taliban period. Why the Afghan government forces could not rescue Sultan is the self-evident question posed by the Afghan Civil Society, which has so far been left unanswered.
In releasing this statement, CSHRN would like to emphasize the following points.
- The Afghan constitution clearly emphasizes the role and responsibility of the government and President to protect Afghan citizens' human rights. Afghanistan is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. Effective protection of the human rights of Afghani citizens is the responsibility of the Afghan state. CSHRN would like to urge the Afghan government to take is human rights protection responsibilities seriously, to organize an enquiry into the killing of Sultan and to effectively prevent acts of violence such as this one from occurring again in the future.
- This is not the first time that Afghani civil society and journalists associations have asked the government to organize proper investigations to identify the reasons for the murders of journalists. A series of horrible killings of Afghan journalists carried out by international forces and insurgents during the ongoing military operations have not been investigated. CSHRN calls on the Afghan government in general, and it's investigative, justice and security sectors specifically, to put in place a mechanism capable of effectively investigating the killing of Sultan.
- CSHRN calls on the new government and President, who will start working after the election, to pay special attention to the provision of useful strategies for protection of the rights of journalists and human rights defenders.
- CSHRN would like to ask the new leader and government of Afghanistan to organize a constructive dialogue with those governments and international organizations which are involved in the security of Afghanistan . International forces must respect human rights of the Afghan citizens equally to those of their own citizens, according to Universal Declaration of Human Rights. NATO and ISAF forces should treat Afghan citizens, especially victims who are captured by Taliban, without discrimination during their operations.
CSHRN will closely follow the government's response to the matters raised in this statement and will react accordingly.

Afghan Civil Society Human Rights Network

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Freed NYT Reporter Reminds Us of Dangers of Real Journalism

Stephen Farrell with Manadi in a Hospital

Yet it havn't either past two days from relese of Mr Parwiz Kambakhsh from prison, another tragedy has accured in Afghanistan which took the life of Afghan journalist in northern Afghanistan.

British commandos freed a New York Times reporter in an early Wednesday raid on a Taliban hide-out in northern Afghanistan. At least five people were killed in the rescue, including the journalist's Afghan translator who was Journalism student in Germany is killed too, one of the troops, officials said.
Reporter Stephen Farrell was taken hostage Saturday along with his Afghan journalist in the northern province of Kunduz when they went to cover a German-ordered airstrike of two hijacked fuel tankers. The bombing, carried out by U.S. jets, caused a number of civilian casualties.
Gunfire rang out from multiple sides during the rescue, and a British service member and Farrell's Afghan translator journalist, Sultan Munadi, 34, were killed. Farrell was unhurt.
A British defense official said he couldn't rule out the possibility Munadi was killed by British gunfire. The family buried Munadi's body late Wednesday without having the body examined to help determine if British bullets or Taliban gunfire killed him.
A Taliban commander in the house where the raid took place, the owner of the house and a woman were also among the dead, said Mohammad Sami Yowar, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor.
Afghan officials over the weekend said about 70 people died when U.S. jets dropped two bombs on the tankers, igniting them in a massive explosion. There were reports that villagers who had come to collect fuel from the tankers were among the dead, and Farrell wanted to interview villagers.
The Times reported that while Farrell and Munadi were talking to Afghans near the site of the bombing, an old man approached them and warned them to leave. Soon after, gunshots rang out and people shouted that the Taliban were approaching.
Police had warned reporters who traveled to the capital of Kunduz to cover the tanker strike that the village in question was controlled by the Taliban, and it would be dangerous to go there.
The Times kept the kidnappings quiet out of concern for the men's safety, and other media outlets, including The Associated Press, did not report the abductions following a request from the Times.
A story posted on the Times' Web site quoted Farrell as saying he had been "extracted" by a commando raid carried out by "a lot of soldiers" in a firefight.
British special forces dropped from helicopters early Wednesday onto the house where the two were being kept, and a gunbattle broke out, Yowar said.
Farrell, 46, a dual Irish-British citizen, told the Times that he saw Munadi step forward shouting "Journalist! Journalist!" but he then fell in a volley of bullets. Farrell said he did not know if the shots came from militants or the rescuing forces.
"I dived in a ditch," said Farrell. Moments later, he said he heard British voices and shouted, "British hostage!" The British voices told him to come over. As he did, Farrell said he saw Munadi.
"He was lying in the same position as he fell," Farrell told the Times. "That's all I know. I saw him go down in front of me. He did not move. He's dead. He was so close, he was just two feet in front of me when he dropped."
A British defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the incident, said he was not able to rule out the possibility that Munadi was killed by soldiers carrying out the rescue mission amid a fierce firefight with the journalists' captors.
"All reports of civilian fatalities are always investigated thoroughly," Britain's defense ministry said in a statement.
A top NATO and U.S. military spokesman, Col. Wayne Shanks, said he did not know if the military would also investigate which side fired the bullets.
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller said he had understood from the military that they did not intend to conduct a raid unless the situation turned "particularly menacing, and they had actionable intelligence and a high probability of success."
Keller said he doesn't know what triggered the decision to carry out the raid, but that Farrell told him the situation had turned "menacing." Keller said it was possible the militants may have planned to move the hostages and said he would not second guess the military's decision to take action.
A spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jessica Barry, said the group had been "in contact with different parties" to urge for the journalists' unconditional release.
The British prime minister said the operation was carried out after "extensive planning and consideration" and that those involved knew the high risks they faced. Brown called the mission "breathtaking heroism."
"As we all know, and as last night once again demonstrated, our armed forces have the skill and courage to act. They are truly the finest among us, and all of us in Britain pay tribute to them, and to the families and communities who sustain them in their awesome responsibilities," Brown said.
Several Western reporters have been kidnapped in Afghanistan in the last several years, mostly while traveling in dangerous districts but also in and around Kabul. Kidnappings by the Taliban are often for ideological reasons, though kidnappings by criminals are done for ransom payments.
At least 16 Afghan and foreign journalists have been kidnapped in Afghanistan since January 2002, according to Reporters Without Borders. Canadian journalist Mellissa Fung and a Dutch reporter were kidnapped separately in or near Kabul last fall. Ransom was demanded in both cases and both were released within a month.
An American working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was abducted in August 2008 and held near Kabul for two months before being freed by U.S. Special Forces. The troops staged a nighttime raid on the captors' hideaway in October, the first known hostage rescue by American forces in Afghanistan.
Munadi was first employed by The New York Times in 2002, according to his colleagues. He left the company a few years later to work for a local radio station.
He was in Afghanistan on vacation from a master's program in Germany when he agreed to accompany Farrell to Kunduz on a freelance basis. He was married and had two young sons.
In a New York Times Web blog this month, Munadi wrote that he would never leave Afghanistan permanently and that "being a journalist is not enough; it will not solve the problems of Afghanistan. I want to work for the education of the country, because the majority of people are illiterate."
"And if I leave this country, if other people like me leave this country, who will come to Afghanistan?" he wrote.
Farrell joined the Times in 2007 in Baghdad. He has covered both the Afghan and Iraq conflicts for the paper.
He was briefly held hostage with an American journalist traveling in Iraq in 2004, when he was working for The Times of London. Militants questioned them for about seven hours before letting them go, he said afterward.
Farrell was the second Times journalist to be kidnapped in Afghanistan in a year.
In June, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Rohde and his Afghan colleague Tahir Ludin escaped from their Taliban captors in northwestern Pakistan. They had been abducted Nov. 10 south of Kabul and were moved across the border.
Keller said that reporters in the field are allowed a great deal of leeway, and that they are the best ones to judge the level of risk but that the Times would carry out a security review after the latest abduction.
Associated Press reporters Heidi Vogt in Kabul, David Stringer in London and Deepti Hajela in New York contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

NYT reporter, interpreter kidnapped in Kunduz Afghanistan

Taliban insurgents have kidnapped a foreign journalist associated with The New York Times in Chahar Dara district of northern Kunduz province, the governor said on Saturday.

Engineer Mohammad Omar told Pajhwok Afghan News they did not allow the reporter to visit the troubled district, where close to 100 people were killed in a NATO air strike on Friday.

But in defiance of government orders, the reporter went to Chahar Dara at his own risk. The governor added a Taliban commander named Mullah Abdur Rehman had abducted the British national along with an Afghan interpreter.

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers found the reporter's vehicle during a search operation in the area. The journalist wanted to visit the area where the oil tankers hijacked by insurgents were struck. Residents say 150 locals were killed in the air raid

Kunduz air strike killed 95 civilians....

Ninety-five people including dozens of civilians were killed and many others injured on Friday when NATO aircraft struck oil tankers hijacked by Taliban insurgents in Chahar Dara district of northern Kunduz province.
Kunduz Governor Eng. Mohammad Omar told Pajhwok Afghan News a Taliban commander, Mullah Abdul Rahman, was among 45 insurgents killed in the incident that occurred in Haji Aman village of the restive district.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the air strike was carried out early this morning against a large number of insurgents after the Kunduz Operational Command Centre reported that two fuel trucks were stolen by insurgents.
Addressing a news conference, the provincial police chief said 65 guerrillas were killed in a huge explosion at the tanker after the NATO strike. The bombing came as militants and villagers emptied oil from the tanker into jerry canes.
Brig. Gen. Abdul Razaq Yaqubi told journalists more than a dozen Taliban were wounded in the massive blast. He acknowledged ordinary residents were among the dead and injured. However, the police chief explained the exact civilian toll was yet to be ascertained.
In response to a query, Gen. Abdul Rehman said drivers of the tankers -- belonging to a private firm -- were beheaded. Residents of Panjsher and Ghorband (Parwan), their headless bodies have been handed over to their kin, according to the police chief.
In a statement on its website, the NATO-led force said a local ISAF commander allowed the air raid after observing the insurgent activity and assessing civilians were not in the area. "A large number of insurgents were reported killed or injured and the fuel trucks were destroyed in the attack."
However, the 42-nation force later received reports that civilians were killed and injured in the air strike and "in conjunction with Afghan officials is now conducting an investigation into the claims."
The governor said the Taliban fighters hijacked two oil tankers carrying aircraft fuel for NATO forces from the Kunduz-Baghlan Highway. The militants were distributing fuel for free when the raid took place.

But a security official, seeking anonymity, said the death toll was more than 200. He claimed warplanes struck the people who had gathered to receive free oil distributed by the hijackers. The official would not give further details.
A dweller of the village, Noorullah, said one of his relatives was killed and another injured in the bombardment. Without giving evidence, he claimed the bombardment left 400 dead and wounded. Most of the injured were badly burnt, he said.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the gubernatorial assertion as false. The rebels suffered no casualties in the raid, he insisted, suggesting the dead were ordinary residents.

Director of Kunduz Civil Hospital, Humayun Khamosh said 15 wounded people were brought to hospital. Some of those hospitalised were writhing in pain, their skin peeling off as a result of the burns.
Statement by the Deputy UN Special Representative, Peter Galbraith on Kunduz airstrike Kabul, 4 September 2009 - I am very concerned by the reports we have seen this morning of casualties among civilians from an air strike against stolen trucks in Aliabad district of Kunduz province.As an immediate priority, everything possible must be done to ensure that people wounded by this attack are being properly cared for, and that families of the deceased are getting all the help they need.Steps must also be taken to examine what happened and why an air strike was employed in circumstances where it was hard to determine with certainty that civilians were not present. UNAMA is sending a team to look into the situation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Security Council, Secretary-General deplore brutal bombing in southern Afghanistan

26 August 2009 - The Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the senior United Nations official in Afghanistan have all condemned Tuesday’s suicide bomb attack in the southern city of Kandahar, which has killed more than 40 civilians and wounded at least 80 others. The truck bomb exploded on Tuesday evening in a residential area of Kandahar near a Japanese construction company, a guest house used by foreigners and Government offices, according to media reports. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “shocked and dismayed” when he learned of the attack, his spokesperson said in a statement released today. “He condemns in the strongest possible terms this brutal and senseless act of violence.” The Security Council issued a press statement later today deploring the bombing and stressing that “no terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Afghanistan, which is supported by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and the international community.” Council members underlined the need to bring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of such acts to justice and urged all States to cooperate with Afghan authorities to this end, according to the press statement, read out by Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month.
“The members of the Security Council reiterated their serious concern at the threats posed by the Taliban, al-Qaida and other extremist groups to the local population, national security forces, international military and international assistance efforts in Afghanistan,” Mr. Sawers said. Kai Eide, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, offered his deep condolences to all those who have suffered as a result of the attack, which occurred just days after the country held presidential and provincial council elections. “The disregard for civilian lives shown by the perpetrators of this attack is staggering,” Mr. Eide said in a statement issued in Kabul.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Taliban killed Afghan Journalist in Pakistan

Gunmen shot dead an AfText Colorghan journalist known as an outspoken critic of the Taliban as he travelled by bus through Pakistan's Khyber Pass on Monday, a Pakistani government official said.
Janullah Hashimzada was bureau chief in Pakistan for Afghanistan's Shamshad television channel and was travelling from Afghanistan when he was attacked.
"The attackers in a Toyota Corolla car intercepted the bus and made it stop and then they went inside and shot him dead," Rehan Khattak, a government official in Jamrud, the main town in the Khyber region, told Reuters.
One passenger was wounded, he said.
Khattak declined to say who might have been behind the attack.
Journalists in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province where Hashimzada was based, said he had been a vocal critic of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
"This was purely a targeted killing," Shamim Shahid, president of the Peshawar Press Club, told the vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI). "(He) was very critical of the Taliban, and some of his reporting was unacceptable both to Pakistani and Afghan governments and intelligence agencies.
"He had too much information regarding the militants, the Taliban and the intelligence agencies."
Violence has increased in Khyber over the past year with Pakistani Taliban launching attacks in an attempt to cut off supplies bound for Western forces in Afghanistan.
Kidnap and smuggling gangs also operate in the region, some of whose members also pose as Islamist militants. (Reporting by Ibrahim Shinwari; Writing by Kamran Haider; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ralph Boulton)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hashimi is building Taliban’s regime back

If Hashimi win the presidential election, he will build a regime in accordance to Taliban laws.

Afghanistan National Revolutionary Movement's nominate for Presidential election has said that if he wins the election, he will make a system according to Islamic rules.
Molawi Mohammad sayed Hashimi has stated this statement on 3 sour in a press conference in Kabul.

Hasimi said If he win the election, he will search some ways by which Afghan civilian will be able to learn according religious laws and will select those ministers and governors who aren't soaked with corruption.

He affirmed that will make large masques in Afghanistan so that Afghan civilian should not be compelled to immigrate in foreign countries for learning and Afghanistan will have its On Red/Lal Masques.

He also said that will make limited rules and regulations for media to eradicate Media's stubbornness.
According to the information we have, he was Afghanistan National Revolutionary Movement's ex leader (Moulawi Mohammad Nabi Mohammady)'s advisor, and than after year 1371 he worked for a year as consultant minister in Burhanuddin Rabani's government.

Till now beside Hashimi, 31 another persons have nominated themselves for presidential post.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Iranian-American journalist gets eight years on spying charge

Reporters Without Borders “firmly condemns” the eight-year prison sentence which a Tehran revolutionary court passed today on Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi on a charge of spying for the United States.
“This conviction was unjust under the Iranian criminal code and the sentence was severe,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Saberi’s lawyer was not with her when she appeared before the judges for the single hearing on 13 April. Coming as it does in the run-up to elections, this sentence is a warning to all foreign journalists working in Iran.”
The Saberi case is the latest example of how the Iranian authorities arbitrarily use spying charges to arrest journalists and tighten the gag on free expression.
Aged 31, Saberi has been detained ever since her arrest in Tehran in late January. The trial opened before a revolutionary court on 13 April and only one hearing was held, lasting a day. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, confirmed today to Reporters Without Borders that she has been convicted and sentenced and said he was going to appeal.
Saberi’s arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States on 1 March following a call it received from her father on 10 February. The day after the NPR report, the Iranian authorities confirmed she was being held in north Tehran’s Evin prison. On 2 March, foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working “illegally” in Iran. Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said on 3 March that she had been “arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in detention in Evin prison.”
Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has an Iranian father who became a US citizen. She moved to Iran six years ago, working as a stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News. The Iranian authorities do not recognise dual citizenship and regard her as an Iranian like any other.
Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she had not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and information as she did not have press accreditation, he said. “Her writings were just personal notes and comments about cultural and literary subjects with a view to writing a book about Iran,” he said, adding that “she had been concentrating since 2006 on studying Farsi and Iranian culture at a Tehran university.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Two Minutes-Of-Shame That Shook Pakistan

A two-minute video episode captured on a cell phone shook Pakistan when it penetrated the blogosphere and began making rounds as everybody with a mobile phone passed the footage to all the contacts in his/her phone book. The rough-and-ready footage emerged from Swat. Once a honeymoon destination, this scenic valley has, of late, become a Saudi-style puritan "Emirate of Taliban".
Having earned itself the neologism of "Swat video", this widely watched footage shows a burka-clad girl pinned to ground. Two men holding her hand and feet while the third - with a black turban and beard - canning the girl. Crying for mercy ("stop it please") and begging forgiveness, the girl struggles - instinctively but unsuccessfully - to free herself.
Silent onlookers watch on helplessly, apparently unmoved by the shameful spectacle on display. "Either kill me or stop", screams helpless girl yet again in her mother tongue, Pashto. Her pleas for mercy are instead countered by an off-camera instruction to the man holding her feet: "Hold her legs tightly". The flogging does not stop until the count is 34.
Silent onlookers watch on helplessly, apparently unmoved by the shameful spectacle on display. "Either kill me or stop", screams helpless girl yet again in her mother tongue, Pashto. Her pleas for mercy are instead countered by an off-camera instruction to the man holding her feet: "Hold her legs tightly". The flogging does not stop until the count is 34. When the lashing is over, she is led to a stone building nearby.
The footage was passed on to local journalists. Afraid of puritan wrath, the local journalists kept mum. Their fears were justified. Only weeks ago, a journalist was cold-bloodedly murdered in Swat. Elsewhere, Pakistan is no "safe haven" for journalists either. Almost 40 journalists have been killed in the last eight years, most of them in Taliban-controlled districts.
However, self censorship in the face of Taliban terror was not the only reason that mainstream media in Pakistan hushed this video up. Making a "breaking news" out of every trifle, a dozen or so Pakistani channels jealously vie with each other to be the first to report a particular incident. But this footage for days and days did not manage to gatecrash the newsrooms also because a big chunk of media men and women too sympathise with Taliban. A brave woman and documentary maker, Samar Minallah, passed the footage to local media.
"They were not ready to show it", she told this scribe on phone. Finally, she sent the video on to Islamabad-based foreign journalists. It made cautious headlines on April 2 in, for instance, the Guardian while BBC Urdu also hosted the news on its website.
Meantime, women rights groups began staging demonstrations in Lahore and Karachi. Thus, the silence was broken. Then the vultures from mainstream media-houses swooped on Swat. On April 3, electronic media swung to action while the morning papers on April 4 had wall-to-wall coverage of the incident with chilling details.
Universal outrage
The media coverage, however, was also triggered by the universal outrage. The anger is so widespread that even right-wing and Islamist parties, for the first time, have condemned the Taliban. Also, a host of columnists and anchorpersons sympathising with Taliban - touted as Media Mujahideen - are, for the first time, finding it hard to defend Taliban. Until now, every brutality Taliban has inflicted on their helpless victims, was justified in the name of resistance to US occupation of Afghanistan. When, for instance, the five-star Marriot was attacked by a suicide bomber in capital Islamabad, a leading Media Mujahid spun a cock-and-bull theory that hotel was housing US military facilities.
It turned out that a beautifully named 14-year-old girl, Chaand (moon in many South Asian languages) was accused of having an "affair" with Adalat Khan, a youth living in the same street. An electrician by profession, Adalat Khan was one day spotted coming out of Chaand’s home by Taliban. Adalat had been summoned by Chaand’s family to help fix some electric appliances. A Taliban militant had proposed Chaand. Her family turned down the suit. Now was a chance to take revenge. Hence, both Adalat and Chaand were dragged out of their respective homes and flogged. First, Adalat was administered 50 lashes. Later, Chaand was spanked with a leather belt.
Muslim Khan, a spokesperson for Taliban in Swat, while replying journalists’ queries not merely defended this disgracful butchery but claimed that the girl should have been stoned instead! Since the punishment was awarded, according to Muslim Khan, before the implementation of Sharia when Taliban were at war with the government hence a fatwa for stoning could not be obtained from a Sharia court.
Deal delivers Sharia law
Following a "peace deal" struck on February 21, between Taliban and the government, Sharia courts have been established. These courts pass a verdict in three days while local lawyers are not allowed to appear as counsels since they are not qualified in Sharia
Meantime, as this scribe is busy writing these lines, more information is pouring in and the latest news is: The Taliban also forced Adalat to marry Chaand. As more information reaches people, they are getting more agitated and outraged. This outrage is translating into protest demonstrations across Pakistan. Every demo is proving more fatal for Taliban than any US drone attack

A Step Forward or Backward

Tuesday، April 7، 2009

A Step Forward or Backward?
The Law on Private Matters of the Shiites in Afghanistan

President Karzai has recently signed Qanon-e Ahwal-e Shakhsiah Ahl-e Tashaio a, or the
Law on Private Matters of the Shiites, a new legislation dealing with the private matters of the
Shiite population of Afghanistan. The move has provoked an outcry among the Afghan civil
society and the international community. A number of articles in the new law contradict the basic
principles of human rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
and our national obligations under international human rights conventions and treaties,
particularly the Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In a
Taliban-style provision, this law conditions women s movement outside her house to the consent
of her husband. The law undermines the progress towards realization of human rights, empowers
and institutionalizes a radically hard-line interpretation of the holy religion of Islam and sets a
bad precedent for future conservative legislations and government policiesThe Afghanistan Watch has been following the debates surrounding the approval of the
legislation in the National Assembly. It believes that the law is written in line with the most
conservative interpretation of Shiite jurisprudence and many progressive and moderate voices
coming out of the Afghan civil society, the Shiite religious scholars and from within the
parliament during the debate over the draft law were ignored and sidelined. The views expressed
in the law are dictated by the most conservative and a minority of the Shiite ulema in
Afghanistan. The organization believes that enforcement of some provisions of the new law will
be a setback for the promotion of women s and children s rights which have often been presented
as the main goals of the international intervention and the post-Taliban political process in the
country. This will also erode the hopes and aspirations of Afghan women and children after years
of war and total exclusion under the Taliban for liberty, political and legal equality and
improvement in their living conditions after nearly 8 years of democratic experimentAs a member of Afghan civil society, the Afghanistan Watch is deeply alarmed that laws
such as this can be passed by the democratically elected national assembly and singed into effect
by the President

Afghanistan Watch calls on the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the
Speakers and Members of both Houses of the National Assembly to reconsider this law in line
with the commitments and obligations of Afghanistan under its Constitution and international
human rights obligations
The Afghanistan Watch also calls upon the international community, the UN, international
human rights organizations and the diplomatic community in Kabul to consistently advocate and
pressure the Afghan government and the parliament to respect universally recognized human
rights values and norms

Politicized Case Shows Grave Threat to Freedom of Expression

Tuesday، March 17، 2009
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai should issue a pardon for Parwez Kambakhsh, a student and part-time journalist, whose 20-year prison sentence for blasphemy has been upheld by the Supreme Court, Human Rights Watch said today. The Supreme Court decision was the final stage in a highly politicized case that has repeatedly flouted Afghan and international law and highlighted the lack of professionalism among the Afghan judiciary
The court upheld the sentence on February 11, 2009, without informing Kambakhsh or his lawyer, or allowing the lawyer to submit arguments in Kambakhsh's defense. On March 7, the lawyer, Azfal Nooristani, discovered that the decision had been made
"The Supreme Court represented the last hope that Parwez Kambakhsh would receive a fair hearing, but once again justice was denied," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Kambakhsh has committed no crime. Now it is up to President Karzai to act on principle and free him"
Threats, prejudicial statements, and political interventions have marred the Kambakhsh case from the outset. "This case has been a conspiracy, it is about politics," Nooristani told Human Rights Watch. "I had a legal right to see the Supreme Court judges, but they would not see me; they did not let me submit my defense statement. They had already made up their minds

Kambakhsh was detained in Balkh province on October 27, 2007, accused of writing and distributing an article that criticized the role of women in the Quran. Kambakhsh says he merely downloaded the article from the internet and sent it to friends. While in detention, Kambakhsh says, he was forced to sign a confession under duress

On January 22, 2008, the Primary Court in Balkh sentenced him to death for blasphemy in a trial that lasted only a few minutes. No evidence was presented, and Kambakhsh was not given access to legal representation. It later emerged that the judges had accepted as evidence against Kambakhsh statements from fellow students and teachers that he asked "difficult questions" in class, a cell phone text message joke he had sent to a friend, and a history book found in his bedroom

In October 2008, the Court of Appeal upheld the conviction against Kambakhsh and commuted his sentence to 20 years in prison. The proceedings of the appellate court also had grave legal flaws. The prime witness for the prosecution retracted his statement, telling the court that he had been forced to make it because he had been threatened by the security forces. This was the sole piece of evidence that linked Kambakhsh to the article, a fact that was ignored in the court's written decision

Human Rights Watch expressed concern for Kambakhsh's safety. Kambakhsh has been informed that he will be transferred to Pul-i-Charki prison or to a prison in Balkh province, where in either case he believes he will be under threat from fellow prisoners. "The government says they will now move Kambakhsh to another prison, but there are Taliban and other Jihadis there," said Nooristani, his lawyer. "He thinks he will be killed. He is an innocent man, but he did not receive justice in the courts"
Human Rights Watch called upon the government of Afghanistan to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Kambakhsh and to detain him in a prison where he will not be at risk

Human Rights Watch said that the Kambakhsh case is emblematic of a general diminution of freedom of expression in Afghanistan. In February, the Payman Daily newspaper was forced to close after it was accused of apostasy by the Ulema Council (a council of clerics). The paper had published an article downloaded from the internet about the apocalyptic prophesies of a Bulgarian mystic and self-proclaimed clairvoyant known as Baba Vanga, who raised questions about the afterlife. Staff members received death threats and the news editor, Nazari Paryani, spent 10 days in detention. Charges appear to be pending against him
Another journalist, Ghows Zalmai, is facing a 20-year jail sentence for blasphemy after publishing a translation of the Quran in Dari, one of the languages of Afghanistan. The Supreme Court is currently reviewing his case
"The Karzai government is allowing blasphemy cases against the press to go forward to keep the support of religious conservatives," said Adams. "Afghans were silenced by the Taliban, and do not want to be silenced again. The government must recommit itself defend freedom of expression"

A 15yeas old grill was raped number of times

An 15 years old grill was raped a number tiomes in pakistan!
Zeba is 15 years old, originally from the southeast region, her parents died when she was a little child, her cousin Ali took her under custody and she grew up with his family as a refugee camp in Pakistan.

One day Ali told Zeba that he was going to take on trip and she agreed.
Zeba was handed to a man called Abdullah and a women living in his house.
Abdullah later told Zeba that he spent a lot of money for her and that she was his wife now.
Zeba wanted to refuse him but was afraid that he would kill her if she did.
She was not even able to communicate with Abdullah, well as he is a Dari speaker and she speaks only Pashto.
Zeba was raped a number of times after the Nikka (marriage) ceremony.
Towenty days later, Zeba had a chance to talk with her neighbor who understood Pashto and told her story.
While taking the women living in Abdullah’s house neighbor informed police and the arrested Abdullah."IOM"case record 2008.

Trafficking women and children

A grill who burnt herself in Kandahar:
An eight year old afghan grill was kidnapped in the southern region in August 2006.
She was later found dead in house in the same province.
The autopsy revealed that she was first sexually abused and then burnt to death.

A F G H A N I S T A N Annual Report on Protection of Civilians

Tuesday، February 17، 2009

Executive Summary UNAMA Human rghts Unit

1. This Report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2008 is
compiled in pursuance of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)
mandate under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1806 (2008). UNAMA conducts
independent and impartial monitoring of incidents involving loss of life or injury to civilians
as well as damage or destruction of civilian infrastructure and conducts activities geared to
mitigating the impact of the armed conflict on civilians. UNAMA’s Human Rights Officers
(national and international), deployed in all of UNAMA’s regional offices and some
provincial offices, utilize a broad range of techniques to gather information on specific cases
irrespective of location or who may be responsible. Such information is cross-checked and
analysed, with a range of diverse sources, for credibility and reliability to the satisfaction of
the Human Rights Officer conducting the investigation, before details are recorded in a
dedicated data base. However, due to limitations arising from the operating environment,
such as the joint nature of some operations and the inability of primary sources in most
instances to precisely identify or distinguish between diverse military actors/insurgents,
UNAMA does not break down responsibility for particular incidents other than attributing
them to “pro-government forces” or “anti-government elements”. UNAMA does not claim
that the statistics presented in this report are complete; it may be the case that, given the
limitations in the operating environment, UNAMA is under-reporting civilian casualties. In
January 2009, UNAMA introduced a new electronic database which is designed to facilitate
the collection and analysis of information, including disaggregation by age and gender.
2. In compliance with its mandate granted under UN Security Council Resolution 1806 (2008),
paragraph (g), the Human Rights Unit of UNAMA (UNAMA Human Rights) undertakes a
range of activities aimed at minimizing the impact of the conflict on civilians, including
reporting through the UN Secretary General to the Security Council, the Special
Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) UNAMA, the UN Emergency Relief
Coordinator, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other UN
mechanisms as appropriate. UNAMA Human Rights advocates with a range of actors
including Afghan authorities, international military forces (IMF), and others with a view to
strengthening compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law. It also
undertakes a range of activities on issues relating to the armed conflict and protection of
civilians with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the
humanitarian community, and members of civil society.
3. The armed conflict intensified significantly throughout Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008, with
a corresponding rise in civilian casualties and a significant erosion of humanitarian space. In
addition to fatalities as a direct result of armed hostilities, civilians have suffered from
injury, loss of livelihood, displacement, destruction of property, as well as disruption of
access to education, healthcare and other essential services.
4. UNAMA Human Rights recorded a total of 2118 civilian casualties between 01 January and
31 December 2008. This figure represents an increase of almost 40% on the 1523 civilian
deaths recorded in the year of 2007. The 2008 civilian death toll is thus the highest of any
year since the end of major hostilities which resulted in the demise of the Taliban regime at
the end of 2001. Of the 2118 casualties reported in 2008, 1160 (55%) were attributed to antigovernment
elements (AGEs) and 828 (39%) to pro-government forces. The remaining 130
(6%) could not be attributed to any of the conflicting parties since, for example, some
civilians died as a result of cross-fire or were killed by unexploded ordinance. The majority
of civilian casualties, namely 41%, occurred in the south of Afghanistan, which saw heavy
fighting in several provinces. High casualty figures have also been reported in the south-east
(20%), east (13%), central (13%) and western (9%) regions.
5. In 2007 Afghan security forces and IMF supporting the Government in Afghanistan were
responsible for 629 (or 41%) of the total civilian casualties recorded. At around 39% of total
civilian casualties, the relative proportion of deaths attributed to pro-government forces
remained relatively stable for 2008. However, at 828, the actual number of recorded noncombatant
deaths caused by pro-government forces amounts to a 31% increase over the
deaths recorded in 2007. This increase occurred notwithstanding various measures
introduced by the IMF to reduce the impact of the war on civilians.
6. Air-strikes remain responsible for the largest percentage of civilian deaths attributed to progovernment
forces. UNAMA recorded 552 civilian casualties of this nature in 2008. This
constitutes 64% of the 828 non-combatant deaths attributed to actions by pro-government
forces in 2008, and 26% of all civilians killed, as a result of armed conflict in 2008. Nighttime
raids, and “force protection incidents” which sometimes result in death and injury to
civilians, are of continuing concern. Also of concern is the transparency and independence
of procedures of inquiry into civilian casualties by the Afghan Government and the IMF; the
issuance of solatia payments to victims (given that the different troop contributing countries
have different conditions for such payments); and the placement of military bases in urban
and other areas with high concentrations of civilians which have subsequently become
targets of insurgent attacks.
7. In the reporting period, international military forces did attempt to address a number of
significant concerns. This included streamlining and greater transparency of command
structures between ISAF and Operation Enduring Freedom; the latter now, largely, operates
under the Commander of ISAF who is simultaneously Commander of US Forces
Afghanistan. However, some operators still remain outside his command. It is also
noteworthy that refined tactical directives on “force protection”, air-strikes and night-time
raids have been issued in the latter part of 2008. ISAF also introduced a centralised civilian
casualties tracking cell that is mirrored within US Forces Afghanistan by a similar tracking
cell, aimed at investigating all claims of civilian casualties attributed to ISAF/US Forces
Afghanistan. International military forces showed themselves more willing than before to
institute more regular and transparent inquiries into specific incidents (although the
independence of these inquiries is still questionable).
8. AGEs remain responsible for the largest proportion of civilian casualties. Civilian deaths
reportedly caused by AGEs rose from 700 in 2007 to 1,160 in 2008 – an increase of over
65%. While seasonal trends remained broadly consistent, in practically every month of 2008
the insurgent-caused death toll among civilians was higher than in the same month of 2007
and outstripped that resulting from the actions of pro-government forces. The vast majority
of those killed by the armed opposition are victims of suicide and other IED attacks (725
killed) and of targeted assassinations (271 killed). Together, these tactics accounted for over
85% of the non-combatant deaths attributed to AGE actions. The remainder of AGEinflicted
fatalities resulted primarily from rocket attacks and from ground engagements in
which civilians bystanders were directly affected.
9. Accounting for 725 non-combatant deaths, or 34% of the total civilian casualties in 2008,
suicide and IED attacks killed more Afghan civilians than any other tactic used by the
parties to the conflict. UNDSS recorded 146 suicide attacks and 1,297 detonated IEDs in
2008, with another 93 suicide attacks and 843 IEDs that were discovered before they could
be detonated. Although the majority of such attacks have been directed primarily against
military or government targets, attacks are frequently carried out in crowded civilian areas
with apparent disregard for the extensive damage they cause to civilians. Throughout 2008,
insurgents have shown an increasing disregard for the harm they may inflict on civilians in
such attacks. There have been reports of insurgents using civilians as human shields during
operations and of deliberately basing themselves in civilian areas heedless of the toll that
may be inflicted on civilians. Insurgents have also increasingly targeted persons perceived to
be associated or supportive of the Government and its allies, including teachers, students,
doctors and health workers, tribal elders, civilian government employees, former police and
military personnel, and labourers involved in public-interest construction work. UN and
NGO staff members have also become victims of violence and have been killed, kidnapped
or received death threats on numerous occasions. Schools, particularly those for girls, have
come under increasing attack thereby depriving thousands of students, especially girls, of
their right of access to education. According to UNICEF, attacks on schools and educational
facilities rose by 24%, from 236 incidents reported in 2007 to 293 in 2008.1
10. The deteriorating security situation and drastically reduced humanitarian access intensified
the challenge for the humanitarian agencies to address the growing needs of vulnerable
Afghans. By the end of 2008, “humanitarian space” had shrunk considerably. Large parts of
the south, south-west, south-east, east, and central regions of Afghanistan are now classified
by the UN Department of Safety and Security as an “extreme risk, hostile environment” for
operations. In 2008, 38 aid workers (almost all from NGOs) were killed, double the number
in 2007, and a further 147 abducted. UNDSS recorded over 198 other direct attacks, threats
and intimidations targeting the aid community in 2008.
11. As the conflict intensifies, Afghans are suffering; in addition to the growing number of
deaths and injuries, vulnerable groups are also suffering in terms of destruction of
infrastructure, loss of income or earning opportunities, and deterioration of access to basic
life-supporting services. UNAMA, concerned about the high cost to civilians, calls upon all
parties to respect the relevant rules of international humanitarian law and human rights law
and to do everything in their power to ensure that the impact of their actions has the least
possible negative impact upon the civilian population.