Watchdog urges US to protect rights after Afghan troop pullout

Kabul, Apr 16 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch Friday urged the United States to continue expanding support for human rights in Afghanistan since the planned withdrawal of American troops has fueled fears that it may erode gains that allowed Afghan girls to enjoy greater freedoms.

The rights watchdog said, in a statement, that President Joe Biden’s government should address the fears of increased insecurity after the US soldiers pull out of the country.

It urged the US to boost its assistance for education and health, especially for girls and women, and independent media, given the threat of a widening conflict that raised fears of humanitarian crisis.

“(The) announcement has raised fears that insecurity may erode important gains in human rights that have allowed Afghans, women and girls to enjoy greater freedoms and better education and health,” Associate Asia director Patricia Gossman said.

“The US government should commit to providing vital funding and diplomatic support to preserve and expand on those gains and press for an end to abuses against civilians.”

Biden earlier this week announced the plan to pull out all American troops from Afghanistan by Sep.11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Biden said his government would “use its full diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic toolkit to … protect the gains made by women and girls over the course of the past 20 years.”

However, the rights group said, past US administrations had not made human rights in Afghanistan a priority.

It said any gains by the Taliban would need a prompt US response, including withholding financial assistance to government agencies and targeted sanctions.

HRW said the Taliban had made no firm commitments to protect fundamental rights in a transitional government or after a peace agreement.

They have continued to restrict the rights of women and girls to education in areas under their control,

They have engaged in a pattern of threats and attacks against Afghan media.

“Should the conflict continue following the US withdrawal, the US should use all diplomatic and other forms of influence to press the parties to comply with international human rights and humanitarian law, especially to protect civilians.”

The group also urged the Biden administration to commit to transparency regarding any continued US use of force, including so-called counter-terrorism strikes that should comply with international law.

“It should pledge to support accountability for past abuses, including through cooperation with the investigation by the International Criminal Court into war crimes and other serious crimes, and review past incidents of civilian casualties to appropriately provide redress or ex gratia (condolence) payments to victims.”

Gossman said the Afghans who had endured decades of human rights abuses were understandably fearful that achievements in media freedom, education, health care, and women’s rights may soon be lost.

“There will be no accountability for the injustices they have endured. The US should seize this moment to express its commitment and strengthen its support for human rights in Afghanistan.” EFE


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