The Government of Afghanistan must turn its human rights commitments from words into reality after the conclusion of a two-day conference in Kabul on the future of human rights in the country.

Representatives from 34 provinces

The conference, organized by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) with Amnesty International’s support, brought together around 250 people – including roughly equal numbers of women and men – from the country’s 34 provinces.

Discussion focused on ways forward through the country’s major human rights challenges.

Critical time for human rights in Afghanistan

“This is a critical and delicate time for Afghanistan with its new government and the withdrawal of international forces, and possible peace talks on the horizon amid a surge in violence from armed opposition groups,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, who addressed the conference.

“The rest of the world must support Afghanistan at this crucial moment, and Amnesty International is firmly committed to the country.

"But as Afghanistan enters this new phase, the government must ensure that it builds on a firm foundation of human rights and the rule of law.”

Afghanistan’s Second Vice President, Sarwar Danish, spoke at the conference’s closure and made a number of commitments, including inviting a representative of AIHRC to participate in the final review of all legislation.

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He also said courts, prosecutors and law enforcement agencies would be instructed to implement the Elimination of Violence Against Women law properly, and committed to implementing the National Plan of Action on Torture.

President Ghani sent a message to the conference that fundamental rights enshrined in the second chapter of Afghanistan’s constitution would be a “red line” in peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Amnesty International said these are important and welcome commitments but they need to be put into action.

Afghanistan’s authorities must not lose sight of the important human rights gains over the past 14 years – following the Kabul conference the time has come to consolidate and build on that progress.