Dr. Abdul Baseer Anwar,
Minister of Justice, Email: [email protected],
Dear Dr. Abdul Baseer Anwar,
I am William Nicholas Gomes, a British human rights activist and freelance journalist.
I have been informed by Observatory about the killing of Ms. Fatima Khalil, Donor Liaison Officer at Afghanistan’s national human rights institution, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), and her driver Mr Jawid Folad, also a staff member of AIHRC.
According to the information received, on June 27, 2020, Ms Fatima Khalil and Mr Jawid Folad were victims of a bomb attack in Butkhak square in Kabul’s District 12. The two human rights defenders were on their way to the AIHRC office when an improvised explosive device (IED) placed under their car exploded. As of the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, the attack had not been claimed by anyone, and the perpetrators had not been identified.
I strongly condemn the killing of Ms Fatima Khalil and Mr Jawid Folad and recalls this is not the first time that AIHRC staff have been subjected to targeted killings. In September 2019, Mr Abdul Samad Ameri, the interim Head of the Ghor provincial office of AIHRC, was abducted on the Kabul-Ghor highway in Maidan Wardak Province and shot dead two days later.
I urge the Afghan authorities to immediately carry out a thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the killing of Ms Fatima Khalil and Mr Jawid Folad to identify all those responsible and bring them before an independent tribunal and sanction them as provided by the law.
I am particularly concerned by the alarming number of targeted attacks against human rights defenders across Afghanistan and recalls that on June 3, 2020, Mr Ibrahim Ebrat, representative of the Civil Society Joint Working Group (CSJWG) in Zabul Province, was killed after being attacked while he was returning from Ramadan prayers. No investigation has been initiated to date.
I call on the Afghan authorities to implement the strategy for the protection of human rights defenders, to which they publicly committed on January 20, 2020, and to put an end to the culture of impunity that prevails in the country.
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all human rights defenders in Afghanistan;
ii. Carry out a swift, thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation into the killing of Ms Fatima Khalil and Mr Jawid Foladin order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and punish them as provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in Afghanistan, and ensure that they can carry out their activities without hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2; and
v. Ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Afghanistan.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Activist and Freelance Journalist
York, United Kingdom