Afghanistan must take early decisive action to prevent killings of human rights defenders, UN human rights experts said Friday, calling attention to the high numbers of killed human rights workers this year.
“The killing of one human rights defender is a tragedy for society; the death of nine defenders since the beginning of this year shows the emergence of a truly alarming trend,” said Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur. “Already by August, Afghanistan has far exceeded last year's figures.”
“Impunity allows the perpetuation of such crimes and implies a lack of recognition for human rights defenders’ role in society,” the experts said, noting that investigations in many cases have not yet yielded any results. “There needs to be full accountability for such egregious violations of human rights.”
The UN says in a statement that Asmatullah Salaam, who worked on promoting the right to education in the province of Ghazni, was abducted and killed as he made his way to celebrate Eid with his family on 1 August.
His death, the UN says, comes not long after Fatimah Natasha Khalil and Ahmad Jawed Folad were killed on their way to work at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission on June 27. Human rights defender Ibrahim Ebrat was shot dead in Zabul in May, according to the UN statement.
“In January the Government of Afghanistan voiced support for the idea of creating a national protection mechanism for human rights defenders, but no progress has been reported and clearly defenders are still no better protected than they were before,” said the experts. "We urge the government to urgently put in place, as promised, an effective national protection mechanism."
It is the responsibility of every government to protect human rights defenders against armed groups, they added.
The experts said they are talking with Afghanistan authorities, and pledged to closely monitor the situation.