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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 27 January 2014 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Afghanistan
Represented by 11 member delegation headed by Mr. Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Justice

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit
the Afghanistan page on the UPR website

Troika *

United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Benin

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Afghanistan page on the UPR Extranet**)

  • The Government of Afghanistan has been active in promoting civil and political rights in the country and in promoting freedom of speech, of the media and associations without censorship;
  • The Government was currently preparing for Presidential and local elections and has invited international observers to ensure the elections were conducted freely and fairly.   3,305,799 citizens received voting cards to participate in these elections;
  • Afghanistan has carried out a number of activities between 2009 and 2013 to improve the quality of education, these include: the construction of more schools (from 11.4 thousand in 2009 to 15.1 thousand in 2013, 2.2 thousand of which were allocated to girls), and an increased enrolment rate (from 6.5 million in 2009 to 8.6 million in 2013);
  • Various policies and strategies have been developed to advance the right to health including the development of a public health vision entitled “Health for All Afghans” for 2012-2010;
  • Recent data indicated a substantial improvement in the health sector as evidenced by a reduction in the overall mortality rate and the child mortality rates in particular;
  • The Government was continuing its process of legal reform in light of the international conventions it ratified and as a result has reviewed various laws, regulations and strategies including the Civil Code, the Penal Code, the Juvenile Code, the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women;
  • Women’s rights and gender equality remained a top priority for the Government.  Afghan women made up 27% of legislators in Parliament and occupied 25% of government jobs, including 9% at the decision making level.  Girls made up about 40% of the nearly 9 million children attending school in Afghanistan today;
  • The Government adopted various measures for protecting women and preventing violence against women in the past four years.  These include the adoption of the EVAW  Law, the establishment of Special EVAW Prosecution Offices, and the establishment of 16 protection centres/shelters for women victims of domestic violence;
  • The Government also worked to develop a national action plan on women, peace security for post 2014 to adopt additional measures for greater participation and protection of women;
  • The Government adopted measures to ensure that children were protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment based on a number of legislative provisions;
  • The Government also received a 15-point road map from the United Nations to further develop its National Action Plan on Children in Armed Conflict that it was going to approve soon;
  • Afghanistan still faced a number of challenges which have slowed its progress in human rights and the implementation of transitional justice due to terrorism, extremism, narcotics and insecurity in some parts of the country.  

Participants

In total 88 States participated in the dialogue: 33 HRC members and 55 observers  (Statements available on Afghanistan page on the UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The adoption and improvement of laws and legislation concerning the situation of women, including the passing of the Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women in 2009 and the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan;
  • The improvement of the human rights situation in the country and the political will of the authorities to create a stable environment in Afghanistan;
  • That Afghanistan had become party to most of the core international human rights instruments;
  • The accession to the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court;
  • The work done by the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation for the improvement of social, economic and educational status of internally displaced persons and refugees;
  • The inclusion of numerous provisions of international human rights conventions to national laws, such as the Juvenile Code, Law on Elimination of violence against women, Law on Anti-corruption Strategy among others.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The failure to respond effectively to the increasing violence against women and fact that women and girls still lacked equal opportunities, faced trafficking, honour killings and forced and child marriages;
  • The prevalence of arbitrary arrests and detention by the police, cases of torture and other ill-treatment in detention facilities and by the Afghan National Security Forces;
  • The criminalization of same-sex sexual practices between consenting adults;
  • The human rights situation of internally displaced persons;
  • The high percentage of children employed in different sectors, including hazardous ones;
  • The considerable challenges that remained with regard to the fragile security situation.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Afghanistan.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To ensure the prompt enforcement of the National Action Plan for Women and the full implementation of the Elimination of Violence Against Women Law;
  • To increase allocations of funds to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission;
  • To reintroduce a moratorium on executions with a view to the abolition of capital punishment;
  • To implement measures ensuring prompt and impartial investigation of ill-treatment and torture of detainees and to prosecute perpetrators;
  • To take measures to end all recruitment and use of children by military groups;
  • To enhance its cooperation with the Council by issuing a standing invitation to Special Procedures;
  • To take measures to prevent child and forced marriages and to revise the legislation related to child marriage especially to bring in-line the legal age of marriage with international standards;
  • To review national legislation to ensure it is fully aligned with obligations under the Rome Statute;
  • To fully implement the National Action Plan of the Security Council on women, peace and security;
  • The repeal article 398 of the Penal Code which gives perpetrators of honour killings legal concessions;
  • To continue efforts in the field of poverty reduction;
  • To further strengthen efforts to review its legislative framework and to ensure it is in conformity with Afghanistan’s international human rights obligations;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture; the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; the First and Second Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers; the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute and the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court.

 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Afghanistan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 31 January 2014

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 
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