Delegation of the European Union

to the International Organisations in Vienna

31st Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the serious human rights concerns and situation in Afghanistan

Geneva, 24/08/2021 - 10:50, UNIQUE ID: 210824_6
Statements on behalf of the EU

The following statement has been read out by the Slovenian State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Gašper Dovžan (on behalf of the European Union)

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

We welcome the convening of the Special Session on the grave human rights situation in Afghanistan following the violent campaign by the Taliban. These developments threaten to reverse the political, economic and social achievements of the Afghan people over the last two decades, in particular in the field of human rights of women and girls, children, persons in vulnerable situations and persons belonging to minorities, including their access to employment, education and healthcare.

The European Union calls for the immediate restoration of security and civil order, and a return to constitutional rule and the protection and respect for civilian life, dignity and property throughout Afghanistan, whereby we stress each state's responsibility to protect its population.

We are deeply concerned over reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses in areas across Afghanistan. These include arbitrary and extrajudicial killings of civilians and peaceful protesters, violence against civilians, including public lashing of women, sexual and gender based violence, forced marriage and sexual slavery, as well as the destruction of critical infrastructure and looting of cultural heritage. Civil society leaders, human rights defenders, journalists and other media workers, health care personnel, judicial employees and other civilians are increasingly targeted.

We are particularly concerned about Afghan women and girls, their rights to education, work and freedom of movement. They are very vulnerable to violence and should be protected. As all Afghan people, they are entitled to enjoy all human rights and deserve to live in safety, security and dignity, and their voices must be heard. We are also concerned about the safety of journalists and media workers and human rights defenders in Afghanistan. The EU urges those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to guarantee their protection, and to ensure full respect of the human rights of the Afghan population and of the foreign nationals currently present in Afghanistan.

Accountability for serious human rights violations and abuses and international humanitarian law violations must be ensured. We recall that Afghanistan is a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

The EU attaches the utmost importance to the safety and security of all Afghans, including local staff working for the EU or EU member states and international organisations as well as of those working for local civil society organizations providing aid in different parts of Afghanistan. Through coordination among member states, the EU is determined to do all that is in its capacity to help those endangered by the dramatic crisis in Afghanistan. We also stress the need that the UN can continue its important work in Afghanistan, including on human rights and humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian access must be ensured for all humanitarian actors and local populations must be able to access this aid safely.

Only an inclusive, comprehensive and enduring political solution through meaningful negotiations and respecting international law will bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan. The protection and promotion of all human rights, in particular those of women and girls, must be an integral part of these efforts. Women must be empowered and enabled to participate to this process in a full, equal and meaningful manner.

We will monitor closely how any future government ensures human rights and freedoms for all Afghans, and whether it upholds the political, economic, social and cultural achievements of the Afghan people made since 2001, and respects international law.

Thank you.

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