EU pushes for UN rights rapporteur to monitor human rights in Afghanistan

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The European Union is urging the UN Human Rights Council to appoint a special rapporteur for Afghanistan, with a draft resolution circulated on Friday particularly targeting discrimination against women.

The rapporteur would “monitor the situation of human rights as it develops in Afghanistan,” the draft says.

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In the aftermath of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on August 15, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet and the EU have called for the rights council to launch a mechanism to follow violations in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, which enjoys strong influence in neighboring Afghanistan and has called for engagement with the new regime, has been among several countries reluctant to see such an investigative mechanism set up.

“We strongly condemn the acts of violence and intimidation committed by the Taliban. Those responsible must be held to account,” France's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Jerome Bonnafont, speaking in the name of the EU's 26 member states, told the council.

“We urge the provisional government appointed by the Taliban to respect international law on human rights ... including the rights of women and girls,” he added.

The rapporteur would submit an annual report to the rights council on the situation in Afghanistan and recommend improvements.

The draft “condemns discrimination against women and girls in all its forms and reminds all parties that all forms of violence against women, including sexual and gender-based violence, as well as child, early and forced marriage constitute violations and abuses of their human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

The Taliban were notorious for their oppressive rule from 1996 to 2001, when women were banned from school or work and only allowed to leave the house with a male chaperone.

They have promised to change, saying they will respect women's rights within the framework of Islamic sharia law, but many remain skeptical.

Not a single woman was appointed to the provisional government and the Islamists seem to be incrementally stripping away Afghans' freedoms.

The draft has already been presented at an informal meeting in Geneva which heard calls for the rapporteur to be empowered to look into past rights violations as well, or for a more robust mechanism to be set up to monitor Afghanistan such as a group of experts.

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