Women’s access to justice the focus of discussion at Baghlan event

13 Sep 2018

Women’s access to justice the focus of discussion at Baghlan event

PUL-E-KHUMRI - Participants at a UN-backed event in the northeastern capital of Baghlan recommended that crimes of violence against women should go through the formal justice system, and not through other informal processes.

The event, attended by government officials, prosecutors, civil society and women organisations, discussed recommendations of a May 2018 report in which UNAMA identified the human rights implications of the widespread use of mediation in cases of violence against Afghan women. Participants argued that the formal justice mechanism is better equipped  to protect women and advance their rights as prescribed in Afghan legislation, including the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law and the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan.

“Serious crimes of violence against women -including rape, enforced prostitution and the use of chemical substances- must be referred to the criminal justice system and not the Traditional Dispute Resolution Mechanism,” said Sayed Abdul Hadi Andishmand, from the Pul-e-Khumri court.

A joint report by UNAMA and OHCHR, Injustice and Impunity: Mediation of Criminal Offences of Violence Against Women documented 280 cases of murder and honour killings of women between January 2016 and December 2017.  Of these cases, only 50 ended with a conviction of the perpetrator and prison sentences.

“The report’s findings, including details indicating unchecked impunity in honour killings and the murder of women, signals that justice for Afghan women victims of violence remains severely inadequate,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of UNAMA, when launching the report in May. “The use of mediation in criminal cases serves not only to normalise violence against women but also to undermine confidence in the criminal justice system as a whole.” The report emphasizes that mediation cannot replace the statutory protections provided to women by the constitution and laws of Afghanistan.

Participants in Pul-e-Khumri made similar observations, including Baghlan-based lawyer, Susan Wafa, who insisted that perpetrators should face the formal justice system.

In closing, participants recommended bolstering grassroots advocacy on women’s rights and available legal services.

UNAMA’s regional office in Kunduz supported the event, which was recorded and aired by Tanweer and Pasban TV to an estimated audience of more than half a million in the provincial capital and nearby districts.

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.