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Afghanistan peace negotiations must include women and rights activists- Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called upon authorities negotiating an Afghanistan peace agreement to centre discussions on human rights and in particular to be inclusive of women and activists.

This discussion follows a signed agreement between the Taliban and the US, on 29 February, to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban agree not to attack said troops or allies in the region. This agreement coincides with broader peace discussions with the Afghan government, other political parties in the country and Taliban leaders.

These negotiations will set the future for Afghanistan’s political, economic and social systems and will bring an end to four decades of conflict. In shaping this future, HRW demands that women have equality in all spheres and protections are made to ensure freedom of the media as well as other civil rights.

HRW has raised specific concerns over women’s rights to educations as, despite the Taliban’s claims that they do not oppose the education of girls, only a few districts under their control permit girls to attend school beyond puberty. There are also concerns for the well being of journalists who face threats from both sides and a pervasive system of impunity as civilians are unable to hold accountable those implicated in human rights abuses.

Patricia Grossman, associate Asia director for HRW stated on the matter;

“A durable peace agreement in Afghanistan needs to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights and mechanisms to provide justice for serious abuses’

She called upon the US and other governments to insist that;

“women, rights activists, and Afghans from diverse rural and urban backgrounds participate in various components of the talks […] Bringing in views from throughout Afghan society is crucial for ensuring a peace agreement that addresses the concerns of all those affected by decades of war.”

Concerns over accountability are further complicated by talks of prisoner exchange as the Afghan government promise to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 prisoners held by the Taliban. Such an exchange may deny victims of abuses access to justice as well as jeopardise process rights of detainees.

Read more HRW statement here.

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