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Afghanistan: AIHRC outlines key issues for inclusion in peace talks

Graphic: Shaharzad Akbar, Chairperson, AIHRC

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has outlined key issues for inclusion in peace talks.

In a statement ahead of the next round of peace talks on 5 January 2021, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission called on the negotiating parties to give priority to the following issues as a basis for peace, justice and respect for human rights.

Urgent need for a ceasefire

The ongoing negotiations provide an historic opportunity for an end to war and for lasting peace in Afghanistan. However, the hope for peace is overshadowed by the continued violence and loss of life and livelihoods. The violence continues to harm civilians, including women and children. It severely impacts public participation in the peace process, discourages public gatherings and the active participation of women, media and religious scholars. It is draining public hope for the process. We thus renew our call for a ceasefire and call on you to appoint a joint committee to specifically discuss a ceasefire, mechanisms for monitoring of a ceasefire, and appointing a joint team to investigate any continuing incidents of violence, such as targeted attacks, including those against journalists and human rights defenders. Afghans should not have to wait for full agreement on a political roadmap to enjoy their rights to life, security and fundamental freedoms.

Victim-centered process

The war in Afghanistan has victimized millions of civilians. We have widows, orphans and people with disabilities in all our communities and villages across Afghanistan. The war has not left any community or area untouched. Civilians have been harmed and continue to be harmed by suicide attacks, IEDs, targeted attacks, night raids and airstrikes. These victims are the reality of Afghanistan and they have legitimate rights and demands. We are encouraged to hear that both negotiation teams want to pay special attention to victims and their concerns. Once again we call on you to agree on a mechanism to bring the victims and their voices to the table. The victims of war want to and deserve to be heard. They deserve to have their pain and suffering acknowledged. Their main demand – for ending the atrocities and ensuring they are not repeated – needs to be respected by both sides now.

Addressing victims' rights help to solidify peace

In addition to the presence and participation of victims, we urge the inclusion of victims' rights in the agenda of the negotiations. Victims will play an important role in reconciliation and healing; acknowledging the challenge of addressing these long-term needs, and the responsibility of the post-settlement state, will help address the bitterness and pain of the past, and offer the possibility of peace at the community level.

"As the national human rights institution, the AIHRC strives to protect and promote the human rights of all Afghans in every national process. We express again our readiness to provide expert advice on human rights, as needed, to both parties," the statement said.

"We will additionally continue to monitor the process and advocate for a peace process centered on the human rights and dignity of all Afghans."

Date: 4 January 2021

Source: Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission