KABUL - As Afghanistan prepares for parliamentary elections tomorrow, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) encourages all eligible Afghan citizens to use this opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to vote. UNAMA also calls on all authorities and actors to ensure that the elections can take place in a secure and safe environment.
UNAMA expresses deep concern at recent public statements made by the Taliban, especially those that indicate their intention to carry out attacks against schools that will be used as polling centres.
The elections are a civilian undertaking, and schools used as polling centres cannot be regarded as military targets. Moreover, civilians working in or attending polling stations cannot under any circumstances be regarded as military targets, as civilians present at polling stations do not lose their status as civilians. International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits attacks against civilians and acts or threats of violence aimed at terrorizing the civilian population.
UNAMA urges the Taliban to respect and protect civilians and not to threaten them or carry out violence should they engage in their constitutional right to participate in elections.
The UN Mission deplores the level of violence that has taken many lives in the run-up to the elections.
UNAMA re-emphasizes that attacks directed against polling centres and civilians participating in the electoral process are clear violations of international law, and perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable.