At the Human Rights Council’s recent Special Session on Afghanistan, the High Commissioner and Special Procedures reminded us that the last 18 months have seen “the deadliest civilian casualties recorded in Afghanistan” in recent history. Every single panellist highlighted the urgent need for this Council to create an independent mechanism to monitor and report on violations and abuses, to collect evidence, advance accountability and deter further crimes.
The OIC resolution, adopted by consensus, stressed the need for “transparent and prompt investigations.” The EU in its explanation of its position underscored that “there is an urgent need to set up an independent mechanism to investigate all violations and abuses by the Taliban and all other parties to the conflict, to promote accountability and to monitor the human rights situation on the ground.”
This week, the High Commissioner reiterated that call, telling the Council that even in the short time since the Special Session, the people of Afghanistan have faced further violence and upheaval: a suicide attack that left at least 142 civilians dead; credible reports of reprisal killings of former security force members and government officials by Taliban fighters conducting house-to-house searches; officials who worked for the previous administration and their family members being arbitrarily detained, and then in some cases being killed; attacks and threats to UN staff; Taliban raids on NGOs; women being excluded from the public sphere and told to stay home for their own safety; and Taliban forces using violence against peaceful protesters and journalists, including using live ammunition, batons and whips.
To the EU and all those who have called for a monitoring mechanism: what more are you waiting for? How much more suffering do the people of Afghanistan need to endure before you will stand with them in their hour of need? They are looking to the Council to deliver on its promise of prompt and transparent investigations. Do not fail them.