Protect Afghanistan’s human rights defenders

Months of campaigning for better protection measures for Afghanistan’s human rights defenders led to a Presidential decree in December 2020 establishing a protection mechanism. It was a welcome move, but threats and attacks on human rights defenders have continued. 

Human rights defenders have bravely continued with their work despite the enormous challenges they face every day in Afghanistan. They have come under attack from different sides in the ongoing conflict, including state and non-state actors. For the last few months, threats, and attacks against them have spiked.

Amnesty International, in close collaboration with 32 human rights organizations, presented the “Afghanistan Human Rights Defenders Protection Strategy” in January 2020. In December 2020, the government issued a Presidential Decree establishing the Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.  Three months since, there has been very little visible progress to indicate the protection mechanism is effective and functional.

Merely days after the Presidential Decree, women’s rights activist Freshta Kohistani was killed by a group of unidentified gunmen. A day prior to that, another prominent activist Mohammad Yousuf Rasheed was ambushed and shot at by unidentified gunmen. In March, three journalists were shot at gunpoint. Other activists have received explosives delivered to their houses as a clear threat.

Ask the Government of Afghanistan to expedite the process in ensuring that the protection mechanism for human rights defenders is effective and functional, and to investigate the threats and attacks on human rights defenders promptly, thoroughly, impartially and independently, and in full adherence to international standards on fair trials.

Change happens when people get together and demand it.

Sign the petition now. Ask the Vice President of Afghanistan, S. Danish to:

  1. Ensure that the Joint Commission for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders is effective, functional, and immediately addresses the imminent and long-term security concerns faced by human rights defenders,
  2. Investigate attacks and threats against human rights defenders and hold the perpetrators accountable in fair trials.

Establish a referral system for the protection of those at risk and provide them with psychosocial assistance.