Afghanistan: On Eve of London Conference, Amnesty International Says Human Rights Must be Guaranteed during Taliban Talks

Press Release
January 26, 2010

Afghanistan: On Eve of London Conference, Amnesty International Says Human Rights Must be Guaranteed during Taliban Talks

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA
PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Eve of London Conference, Amnesty International Says Human Rights Must be Guaranteed during Taliban Talks

UN Secretary, Karzai and other leaders to discuss security arrangements including reintegrating moderate elements of the Taliban

(Washington, DC) Human rights, including women’s rights, must not be traded away or compromised during any reconciliation talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said on the eve of a London conference set to discuss deteriorating security conditions in the country.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, other leaders and foreign ministers are to discuss security arrangements in Afghanistan for the next two years, including reconciliation programs to reintegrate so-called moderate elements of the Taliban.

"Any discussions with the Taliban must include clear commitments that they will respect and promote the rights of the Afghan people," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director. The Taliban established a terrible record of violating human rights during their rule and they have done nothing since then to indicate they will act differently if they return to power.”

“The policymakers gathered in London this week have to show that they will not sacrifice the well-being of the Afghan people at the altar of political and military expediency."

Similar deals with the Taliban in neighboring Pakistan led to increased human rights violations in areas under Taliban control and a significant escalation in conflict and insecurity.

The Afghan government and insurgent groups must both adhere to Afghanistan’s obligations under international human rights law and domestic law, Amnesty International said.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan have shown little regard for human rights and the laws of war, deliberately targeting civilians, launching indiscriminate suicide attacks in which civilians are killed and engaging in the wholesale destruction of girls’ education.

According to UN figures, the Taliban were responsible for two thirds of the more than 2400 civilian casualties in Afghanistan last year, the bloodiest year yet since the fall of the Taliban.

In areas under their control, the Taliban have severely curtailed the rights of girls and women, including the denial of education, employment, freedom of movement and political participation and representation.

Afghan civil society groups, in particular women's groups, have voiced serious alarms about the prospect of ceding any type of political control to the Taliban.

“Diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict are a positive step forward, but the rights of the Afghan people must never be negotiated away. “It is our experience that peace without justice or human rights is not real peace and could ultimately lead to further conflict,” said Zarifi.

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or visit: www.amnestyusa.org
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