Detainee rights the focus of UN-backed event in Afghanistan’s northeast

29 Mar 2018

Detainee rights the focus of UN-backed event in Afghanistan’s northeast

KUNDUZ - The human rights of any person who is accused of a crime or detained must be upheld, said government officials and community leaders at a UN-backed symposium in Taloqan, the provincial capital of the northeastern province of Takhar.

The event’s participants, including judicial officials and human rights advocates, discussed several issues around the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, including the right of access to defense lawyers. The discussion was set in the context of the relevant provisions of the Afghan constitution and penal code, as well as the findings of UNAMA’s regular reporting on the treatment of detainees.

“Afghanistan’s laws are based on human rights, but still we have challenges in enforcement of the laws,” Judge Abdul Baqi Fetrat, head of Taloqan’s Urban Court, said during the discussion.

As the discussion continued, Razmara Hawash, Director of Takhar’s Department of Women’s Affairs, pointed out that all individuals must be informed of their rights before arrest, investigation and trial.

In response, Ghulam Sakhi, an official working for the Afghan National Directorate of Security in Takhar, noted that the situation is improving, particularly with regard to detainees having access to defense lawyers.

In UNAMA’s most recent report on conflict-related detainees, released on 24 April 2017 and covering the period between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2016, UNAMA found that more than one-third of those interviewed gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in custody. Since the release of the UNAMA report in 2017, the government has taken steps to promulgate a specific Anti-Torture Law. Additionally, Afghanistan's revised Penal Code, which came into force in February 2018, contains updated provisions aimed at prohibiting and preventing torture.

The rights of prisoners in Afghanistan are governed by both national and international law, including the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, to which Afghanistan is a party.  

Organized by the UNAMA regional office in Kunduz, the Takhar symposium is part of a country-wide outreach initiative aimed at creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on key issues.

UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.

UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.