Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Afghanistan: human rights defenders under increased attack – new briefing

August 28, 2019

Afghanistan’s human rights community are facing face intimidation, harassment, threats and violence amid intensifying attacks from both the authorities and armed groups, Amnesty International said in a new briefing released today (28 August).

While violence escalates in Afghanistan – last year saw the highest levels of civilian deaths on record – human rights defenders and activists have been largely ignored by the Afghan government and the international community.

In the briefing, Defenceless Defenders: Attacks on Afghanistan’s Human Rights Community, Amnesty reveals how the Afghan government has repeatedly failed to investigate attacks on activists, sometimes accusing them of ‘fabricating’ their claims and even telling them to take up arms to defend themselves.

Violence, threats and killings

In the briefing, Amnesty details how human rights defenders and activists have been intimidated, harassed, threatened, shot at, and killed in attacks that the Afghan authorities have failed to investigate and prosecute.

•           Hasiba* is a lawyer who defends women who have suffered domestic violence, are seeking divorce, or who face criminal charges. Since 2017, Hasiba has received repeated threats of violence, including acid attacks. The police registered her case, but took no further action, forcing her to close her law firm for seven months.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/afghanistan-human-rights-defenders-under-increased-attack-new-briefing

Human Rights Defenders Face Increased Attacks in Afghanistan

https://www.tolonews.com/afghanistan/afghanistan%E2%80%99s-human-rights-activists-under-attack-ai

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-women-lawyers/afghanistans-female-lawyers-risk-danger-to-help-women-branded-cheap-and-filthy-idUSKBN19P0L4

Shocking Attack on American University of Afghanistan, ALEP’s Partner in Kabul

https://wpde.com/news/nation-world/afghan-official-wedding-attacks-death-toll-rises-to-80

https://mapdow.com/les-attaques-degenerent-contre-les-defenseurs-des-droits-de-lhomme-de-lafghanistan-rapport/ (FRANCAIS)

Afghanistan: Blast near university in Afghan capital kills eight, wounds dozens

July 19, 2019

The explosion took place as a number of students were waiting near the campus gate to attend an exam, a witness said.

Members of Afghan security forces inspect the site of a blast near Kabul University in Kabul, Afghanistan. July 19, 2019.

A powerful bomb exploded outside the gates of Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding at least 33, according to police and health officials.

The early morning blast also set two vehicles ablaze although it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb, Kabul police spokesman Faramarz Firdaus said.

The university compound houses several hostels where many students stay over the summer, attending classes and conducting research. The university is co-educational.

Initial casualty tolls were released by the Health Ministry spokesman, Dr Wahidullah Mayar, who tweeted that “6 people have been martyred & 27 more wounded, as a result of today’s explosion in Kabul. All the wounded patients were evacuated to our hospitals and have been receiving the required treatment.”

Though Friday is the start of the weekend in Afghanistan, Massoud, an economics professor at the university who like many Afghans uses only one name, said that several lawyers were taking their exams to become judges when the explosion occurred.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the lawyers were the target.

https://www.trtworld.com/asia/blast-near-university-in-afghan-capital-kills-eight-wounds-dozens-28355

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/explosion-outside-kabul-university-kills-2-wounds-10/2019/07/19/cee5e054-a9db-11e9-8733-48c87235f396_story.html

Pakistani Taliban target lawyers in hospital blast, at least 70 dead

2019-07-19 Kabul University

Australia/Afghanistan: Ex-military lawyer faces Supreme Court

June 13, 2019

The ACT Supreme Court has adjourned the case of a former military lawyer who allegedly leaked documents about the Afghanistan war to journalists.

David McBride at his home in Canberra this week.

The government has delayed a case against a former Australian military lawyer, charged over the leaking of sensitive documents to ABC journalists, while it works out how to deal with the secret information in court.

David William McBride, 55, was committed to stand trial in May on a charge of theft of commonwealth property, three counts of breaching the Defence Act, and the unauthorised disclosure of information.

The leaks were to journalists Dan Oakes, Andrew Clark and Chris Masters, who produced the 2017 investigative report The Afghan Files.

The story examined incidents between 2009 and 2013 when special forces allegedly shot dead insurgents and unarmed civilians, including children.

At a directions hearing in the ACT Supreme Court on Thursday, lawyers for the Commonwealth and Crown asked for an adjournment so they could work out how the sensitive information involved would be dealt with in court.

The case was adjourned for a fortnight, until June 27.

https://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/exmilitary-lawyer-faces-supreme-court/news-story/7428ce0ea17c42c3792a217d263a0d63

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/afghan-files-whistleblower-david-mcbride-facing-act-supreme-court-today

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/12/former-australian-army-lawyer-in-court-over-leak-t/

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/what-i-ve-done-makes-sense-to-me-the-complicated-colourful-life-of-david-mcbride-20190621-p5204h.html

https://www.ksl.com/article/46572748/former-australian-army-lawyer-in-court-over-leak-to-media

https://www.economist.com/asia/2019/06/15/australias-surprising-disregard-for-free-speech

ABC missing in action on Witness K and Bernard Collaery persecution

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/06/whistleblower-protections-a-sham-says-lawyer-whose-leaks-led-to-abc-raids

https://www.kiro7.com/news/whistleblower-returns-to-australian-court-over-afghan-leak/961906899

https://www.goldcoastbulletin.com.au/news/national/whistleblower-david-mcbride-speaks-after-court-appearance-in-canberra/video/d4e1050b7784083177feb639c69e3a52

Australia/Afghanistan: ‘I’m not afraid of going to jail’: Ex-Defence lawyer charged over document leak

March 7, 2019

Whistleblower David William McBride has been charged for leaking defence documents to journalists.

A former Australian military lawyer and captain in Britain’s elite Special Air Service has been charged over the leak of documents exposing alleged unlawful government conduct.

David William McBride, 55, appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday where he was charged with the leaks to journalists Dan Oakes, Andrew Clark and Chris Masters.

He has not entered any pleas.

The charges relate in part to an ABC investigation published in 2017 called “The Afghan Files: Defence leak exposes deadly secrets of Australia’s special forces”.

The investigation was said to give an unprecedented insight into the clandestine operations of Australia’s special forces, including incidents of possible unlawful killings.

Speaking outside court, Mr McBride said he had admitted handing over the documents but would defend the charge on legal grounds.

“I saw something illegally being done by the government and I did something about it,” he said.

“I’m seeking to have the case looking purely at whether the government broke the law and whether it was my duty as a lawyer to report that fact.”

Mr McBride is charged with theft and three counts of breaching the Defence Act, for being a person who is a member of the the defence force and communicating a plan, document or information.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/former-defence-lawyer-charged-over-leak-to-journalists-20190307-p512e9.html

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/defence/military-lawyer-on-theft-charge/news-story/710b70ca6851fa9819434fcc780ea9d7

Afghanistan: #MeToo in Afghanistan: Is Anyone Listening?

December 20, 2017

A demonstrator attends a rally outside the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, Belgium, October 5, 2016.

Any Afghan woman can tell you that sexual harassment is widespread in Afghanistan. A 2016 study found 90 percent of the 346 women and girls interviewed said they had experienced sexual harassment in public places, 91 percent in educational environments, and 87 percent at work. This is not news to my friend Soraya (a pseudonym), a lawyer working in Kabul trying to improve access to justice for women.

Several months ago, she and I observed a rape trial. As is often the case in Afghanistan, the session took place in the cramped judge’s chambers, with witnesses for the prosecution and defence, and both families present. It was a crowded, tense scene; everyone was anxiously awaiting the final evidence and the verdict.

Everyone except the judge. As he waited for the paperwork, he tossed questions at Soraya. Apparently trying to impress her, he boasted of becoming a judge after cheating on his bar exam. He beckoned her over, and handed her his phone. Soraya told me that he asked her for her phone number and pressured her to friend him on Facebook.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/12/20/metoo-afghanistan-anyone-listening

Afghanistan: FEATURE-Afghanistan’s female lawyers risk danger to help women branded “cheap and filthy”

July 4, 2017

Three years ago Maliha, 24, was sitting in a park in western Afghanistan with the man she thought was the love of her life.

The pair were planning a future together, but that future was cut short in a brutal instant.

Suddenly, police officers barged into the park in the city of Herat and arrested the couple.

Maliha was accused of maintaining an illicit relationship, which in the eyes of Islamic law is a criminal act. At the police station, her companion called his family, bribed the police and disassociated himself from her.

“He deserted me like he never knew me,” said Maliha said. “They informed my family about the incident and my involvement with a man. My father disowned me immediately and threatened to kill me if I ever approached him.”

Maliha was convicted of being a prostitute and spent more than three years in a women’s prison, sharing a cell with women convicted on similar charges.

Wardens at the prison came to the cell and harassed, beat and sexually assaulted the women, she said.

“We were branded as cheap and filthy women. Some nights I heard girls shouting…the prison officers were taking them out and sexually abusing them,” she said. “I was so scared that I hardly ever bathed as it could attract attention towards me.”

Maliha herself was abused one day when a man arrived claiming to be a lawyer. She was shown into a room with him where he tried to rape her. She was badly beaten when she resisted.

Her suffering continued until a woman lawyer and women’s rights activist, Mahdis Doost, stepped into help her.

Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries to be a woman or girl in, and a shortage of female police officers and lawyers means women rarely report abuse, rights groups say.

Afghanistan’s roughly 500 registered women lawyers – mostly confined to the big cities of Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat, undertake some of the most dangerous jobs in Afghan society.

They help women fleeing domestic violence and forced marriage. Divorce still remains taboo in Afghan society and if a woman wants to get a divorce lawfully, she has to navigate the male-dominated judicial system.

There is a common phrase in Afghanistan which says “a girl should come to her in-laws in a white dress and leave them in a white shroud,” said Fereshta Karimi, another women lawyer working in Herat.

Among Afghanistan’s women lawyers, only a few actually dare to practice in court. Doost, who represented Maliha, is one of them.

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-feature-afghanistan-s-female-lawyers-risk-danger-to-help-women-branded-cheap-and-filthy-2491427

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-4663192/Afghanistans-female-lawyers-risk-danger-help-women-branded-cheap-filthy.html

Pakistan/Afghanistan: Why courts?

March 28, 2017

Why courts?

Attacks on courts in Pakistan and Afghanistan reflect similarities of modus operandi and targets

Two recent attackson a van carrying Judges in Peshawar and outside Tangi court amplify the objective of the terrorists to persistently hit one of the most important components of the Criminal Justice System (CJS). These incidents lead to a number of questions that need to be addressed. During the climax of militancy,the police primarily remained in the line of fire but gradually other practitioners of CJS including judges, lawyers, prosecutors and jail officers also became victims of terrorism.

Despite dismally low conviction rates, why are courts ideal targets? Actually, after long spell of militancy and large number of arrests of militants,the public expects higher conviction rates. And the extremists through their relentless attacks want to keep the courts under pressure.

The list of attacks is long. In February 2007, detonation by a suicide attacker in the court of senior civil judge Quetta robbed lives of 16 including the judge and 6 lawyers. Two terror attacks at Peshawar court within the time span of a month claimed lives of many in 2009. In March 2013, two bombers again targeted the judicial complex Peshawar andfour lives were lost. In March 2014, in a gun-and-bomb attack 11 people, including an additional district and sessions judge, were killed inside the District Courts Islamabad.

In March 2016, a suicide bomber detonated in front of Shabqadar court resulted into death of 10 persons. Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (JuA) claimed responsibility for the attack and pleaded the reason behind it was vengeance for the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri. In August 2016 a suicide bomber targeted lawyers gathered in a hospital in Quetta resulted in death of 70. Later in 2016, a Mardan court was attacked.

Attacks on courts in Afghanistan and Pakistan show similarities of modus operandi and in the selection of targets.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/28-Mar-17/why-courts