UN Human Rights media spokesperson Jeremy Laurence Thursday issued a statement on the situation in Afghanistan, highlighting the UN’s “alarm” at the ongoing arbitrary arrests and detentions of civil society activists and media workers in Afghanistan, in particular the targeting of those who speak out against the de facto authorities’ discriminatory policies restricting women and girls’ access to education, work and most other areas of public and daily life.
The statement further called for the immediate release of all those in arbitrary detention stating, “No one should be detained for speaking out in defence of their fundamental rights and the rights of others.” Laurence stated that “[t]he arrest of those who express free opinion and exercise their fundamental rights is an “arbitrary principle under international human rights law.” This statement comes as the office points to “a concerning number of civil society activists and media workers” who have been detained so far this year.
In the statement, Laurence points to the case of Matiullah Wesa, the head of PenPath, a civil society organization campaigning for the reopening of girls’ schools, who on March 27 was detained by unidentified individuals who were travelling in an unmarked vehicle. This was followed by the arrest of her two brothers who were later released. The statement points to other activists including Nargis Sadat, Zakaria Osuli, Sultan Ali Ziaee, Khairullah Parhar and Mortaza Behboudi.
The statement calls for the human rights of all detainees to be respected, including the right to be informed of the reason for arrest and the charges against them.