Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on situation of human rights in Afghanistan (A/HRC/22/37)
Human Rights Council
Agenda items 2 and 10
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the
High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Technical assistance and capacity-building
The present report is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council decision 2/113 of 27 November 2006 and resolution 14/15 of 18 June 2010 and has been prepared in cooperation with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
There have been some gains as well as notable gaps and challenges in the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, including the rights of women, freedom from arbitrary detention and respect for fair trial rights, the right to personal freedom and security, the right to life, the right to education as well as ongoing peace and reconciliation processes in different regions and provinces of Afghanistan.
Civilians – men, women and children – continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing armed conflict. Anti-Government elements have increasingly targeted non-combatants as well as purely civilian locations, including roads, public marketplaces and mosques using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide attacks and other indiscriminate tactics. Ordinary citizens working in a civilian capacity or suspected to be working for the Government or international military forces have repeatedly been targeted for assassination, subjected to threats and other forms of intimidation by anti-Government elements.
Conflict-related detainees continue to be subjected to mistreatment and abuse in some facilities run by Afghan security forces. Access to justice is impeded by security concerns, lack of legal aid services and the limited presence of defence lawyers in all parts of the country. While the increased presence of the Afghan National Police points to improvements in civilian policing, there is a dearth of adequate security forces in many rural communities Although the introduction of Afghan Local Police units has improved security in many rural communities, the programme has proved problematic in some locations, as the Afghan National Police have weak oversight and command and control over such forces.
As a result, official police investigations into misconduct by Afghan Local Police have been inconsistent and often have not led to disciplinary measures, expulsion from the force or prosecution. The prison population has continued to grow significantly, placing pressure on facilities. In November, the authorities carried out 14 executions, the first since June 2011.
While there has been progress in the implementation of laws designed to protect women, including the establishment of provincial-level offices to support enforcement of the landmark Law on Elimination of Violence against Women, the criminal justice system faces challenges in preventing violence against women. Entrenched discrimination, harmful practices and other forms of violence against women have continued to marginalize women and girls.
The Human Rights Unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA/OHCHR) continues to work in close collaboration with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC); however, the long delay in finalizing the appointment of its commissioners had a negative impact on the work of AIHRC. UNAMA/OHCHR also supported Afghan civil society groups on initiatives such as the Afghan People’s Dialogue on Peace, with a view to promoting inclusivity and accountability in peace processes.