Annual Report: Afghanistan 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Afghanistan 2013

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  • Afghan TV journalist Nasto Naderi was detained on 21 April for several days without charge or access to a lawyer.

Violence against women and girls

Despite the passage of the Elimination of Violence against Women Act in 2009, law enforcement and judicial officials failed to properly investigate violence against women and girls and bring perpetrators to justice.

Women and girls continued to be beaten, raped and killed. They were targeted and attacked by armed groups, and faced discrimination by the authorities and threats within their own communities and families. The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission documented more than 4,000 cases of violence against women from 21 March to 21 October – a rise of 28% compared with the same period for 2011, reportedly due to increased public awareness. The actual number of incidents was likely to be still higher given the continuing stigma and risk of reprisal associated with reporting such violence.

  • In May, an appeals court in Kabul upheld prison sentences of 10 years each in the case against the in-laws of an Afghan girl. The girl had been severely abused by them after being forced to marry at the age of 13.
  • In July, an Afghan woman, named in media reports as 22-year-old Najiba, was shot dead on “charges” of adultery, reportedly by a Taliban insurgent.
  • On 16 September, a 16-year-old girl was publicly flogged in the southern province of Ghazni for an “illicit relationship”. The girl had been sentenced to 100 lashes, following a verdict issued by three mullahs in Jaghori district.
  • On 10 December, Nadia Sidiqi, the acting head of the Department for Women’s Affairs in Laghman province, was killed by unidentified gunmen while on her way to work. Her predecessor, Hanifa Safi, was killed and her family injured by a remote-controlled explosive device on 13 July. No one claimed responsibility for either incident.

Refugees and internally displaced people

By the end of October, about half a million people remained internally displaced as a result of the conflict and natural disaster. Many continued to seek refuge in city slums and other informal settlements, fashioning makeshift shelters from plastic sheeting, and living under the constant threat of forced and sometimes violent evictions. Poor sanitation and lack of access to education and health care coupled with bitter 2011/2012 weather conditions meant that scores died of illness, cold or both. Over 100, mainly children, reportedly died during this period amid criticism over the lack of timely humanitarian assistance provided. By March, the government had responded with an announcement that it was developing a comprehensive national policy on internal displacement.

In September, the Pakistan government agreed that Afghan refugees could remain in Pakistan for another three years, rescinding an order by officials in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province calling for all illegal Afghan immigrants to leave the country by 25 May, or face imprisonment and deportation.

Death penalty

On 20 and 21 November, the authorities executed 14 prisoners on death row, the first executions since June 2011, despite serious concerns about the lack of guarantee of a fair trial in the country. Thirty people had their death sentences confirmed by the Supreme Court; 10 people had their death sentences commuted to long prison terms. By the end of November more than 250 people remained on death row.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Afghanistan in February, March, May, June, October and December.
  • Fleeing war, finding misery: The plight of the internally displaced in Afghanistan (ASA 11/001/2012)
  • Strengthening the rule of law and protection of human rights, including women’s rights, is key to any development plan for Afghanistan (ASA 11/012/2012)
  • Open letter to the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations, other humanitarian organizations and international donors (ASA 11/019/2012)