OHCHR / AFGHANISTAN

15-Jun-2022 00:05:09
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “what we are witnessing today in Afghanistan is the institutionalized, systematic oppression of women.” UNTV CH
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STORY: OHCHR / AFGHANISTAN
TRT: 05:09
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
SHOTLIST
15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations, exterior
2. Wide shot, conference room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The people of Afghanistan are experiencing some of the darkest moments of a generation. In the wake of years of conflict, and since the takeover by the Taliban in August last year, the country has been plunged into a deep economic, social, humanitarian and human rights crisis.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

4. Med shot, streets

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

5. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Let me be clear: what we are witnessing today in Afghanistan is the institutionalized, systematic oppression of women.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

6. Med shot, Bachelet meeting representatives of civil society

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

7. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“These women’s courage in demanding their rights was striking – theirs is a struggle amidst unimaginable challenges, yet they are still bravely calling for their right to be heard.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

8. Med shot, Bachelet meeting representatives of civil society

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Their situation is critical. The ban on quality secondary schooling for girls, directly affecting 1.1 million secondary school girls, continues, depriving them of a future. Since March, several other decrees have also been passed, impacting women’s and girls’ rights. The enforcement of a strict hijab rule continues; barriers are in place for women’s access to employment, including for female NGO workers performing their duties; there are no opportunities for women to participate in political and public life, and their freedom of movement has been severely restricted.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

10. Med shot, Bachelet meeting representatives of civil society

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

11. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Courageous Afghans - both women and men - are striving to build an equal and just society where the rights of all are respected. As the women told me during my visit, and I will quote them, ‘We want to speak to the Taliban ourselves. We know what our people need.’ I call on the de facto authorities to honour their commitment to women’s rights, to urgently create a meaningful dialogue with Afghan women, and to listen to their voices.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

12. Med shot, Bachelet meeting representatives of civil society

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

13. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“I remind the de facto authorities of their responsibility to protect all Afghans subject to their control.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

14. Med shot, UN vehicles departing presidential palace, exterior

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

15. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“I also remain concerned about the information received of alleged human rights violations and abuses against civilians in the northern provinces, including Panjshir, which have recently seen clashes between the de facto security forces and fighters affiliated with the National Resistance Front. There are serious allegations, which require verification, that civilians have been exposed to violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, and torture. I call upon both parties to this conflict to observe restraint and to fully respect international human rights law and applicable international humanitarian law.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

16. Med shot, streets, exterior

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

17. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“I urge the de facto authorities to open up civic space. A free and independent press where journalists can operate safely will be fundamental in this regard.”

MARCH 2022, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

18. Wide Shot, buildings, exterior

15 JUNE 2022, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

19. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“Civil society actors, including women’s rights activists and human rights defenders, have been subjected to killings, enforced disappearances, incommunicado detention, attacks, harassment, threats, and arrests. While some have been released, others remain deprived of their liberty, separated from their loved ones, and deprived of their right to speak out.”
20. Med shot, participants, conference room
21. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“According to the World Health Organization, some 18.1 million people are in need of health services, including 3.19 million children under five. Compounding all of this is the glaring absence of functioning national mechanisms to monitor human rights violations, severely limiting the ability to provide basic protection for the Afghan people, especially vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities, internally displaced people, minorities, and LGBTQI communities.”
22. Med shot, participants, conference room
23. SOUNDBITE (English) Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The path out of crisis for the people of Afghanistan cannot be paved with the efforts of a few. It will require concerted work by the de facto authorities, renewed space for civil society, and support by the international community to uphold the human rights – and the human dignity – of all Afghans. Let us commit with urgency to make this happen.”
24. Wide shot, Palais des Nations, exterior
STORYLINE
Today (15 Jun), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “what we are witnessing today in Afghanistan is the institutionalized, systematic oppression of women.”

Addressing the Human Rights Council, Bachelet also said, “The people of Afghanistan are experiencing some of the darkest moments of a generation. In the wake of years of conflict, and since the takeover by the Taliban in August last year, the country has been plunged into a deep economic, social, humanitarian, and human rights crisis.”

Michelle Bachelet visited Afghanistan in March this year and met with representatives of the de facto authorities. She also met with some extraordinary women, including doctors, journalists, civil servants, and NGO workers, to discuss the scourge of gender inequality in the country.

Michelle Bachelet stated, “these women’s courage in demanding their rights was striking – theirs is a struggle amidst unimaginable challenges, yet they are still bravely calling for their right to be heard.”

“Their situation is critical. The ban on quality secondary schooling for girls, directly affecting 1.1 million secondary school girls, continues, depriving them of a future. Since March, several other decrees have also been passed, impacting women’s and girls’ rights. The enforcement of a strict hijab rule continues; barriers are in place for women’s access to employment, including for female NGO workers performing their duties; there are no opportunities for women to participate in public and political life, and their freedom of movement has been severely restricted,” she said.

Limiting women’s freedom of movement negatively impacts almost all aspects of their lives, including the ability of women and their children to access and participate in health services, livelihood, and humanitarian aid.

Afghan women are rapidly facing the worst-case scenario many feared. While Afghanistan has ratified several international treaties, including the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the de facto authorities remain far from complying with those international obligations, in both policy and practice, to respect and protect the rights of women and girls.

“Courageous Afghans - both women and men - are striving to build an equal and just society where the rights of all are respected. As the women told me during my visit: “We want to speak to the Taliban ourselves. We know what our people need.” I call on the de facto authorities to honour their commitment to women’s rights, to urgently create a meaningful dialogue with Afghan women, and to listen to their voices,” she said.

“During my visit, I recognized the significance of the general amnesty granted to the former officials of the former Government and members of the security forces as an important step towards reconciliation after so many decades of war. I am, however, concerned that the Human Rights Service of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) continues to receive credible reports of arbitrary arrests and detention, ill-treatment, and extra-judicial killings – particularly of persons associated with the former government and its institutions.”

UNAMA also continues to record the impact of attacks on civilians. In April alone, a spate of IED attacks resulted in civilians being killed and injured at schools, places of worship, markets, and while on public transportation. Ethnic and religious minorities have also been directly attacked.

“I remind the de facto authorities of their responsibility to protect all Afghans subject to their control,” said Bachelet.

“I also remain concerned about the information received of alleged human rights violations and abuses against civilians in the northern provinces, including Panjshir, which have recently seen clashes between the de facto security forces and fighters affiliated with the National Resistance Front. There are serious allegations, which require verification, that civilians have been exposed to violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including arbitrary arrests, extrajudicial killings, and torture. I call upon both parties to this conflict to observe restraint and to fully respect international human rights law and applicable international humanitarian law.”

Despite the de facto authorities’ repeated public commitments to respect human rights, civic space has shrunk rapidly and dramatically since their return to power. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to participate in public affairs have all had a chilling effect on individuals and communities.

“I urge the de facto authorities to open up civic space. A free and independent press where journalists can operate safely will be fundamental in this regard,” Bachelet said.

Intersecting humanitarian and economic crises continue to have a devastating impact on the lives of all Afghans. Today, with mounting unemployment rates, 93 percent of all households are facing a high level of food insecurity with a differential, devastating impact on those most vulnerable –female-headed households, aged persons, people with disabilities, and children.

“Civil society actors, including women’s rights activists and human rights defenders, have been subjected to killings, enforced disappearances, incommunicado detention, attacks, harassment, threats, and arrests. While some have been released, others remain deprived of their liberty, separated from their loved ones, and deprived of their right to speak out,” she said.

Intersecting humanitarian and economic crises continue to have a devastating impact on the lives of all Afghans. Today, with mounting unemployment rates, 93 percent of all households face a high level of food insecurity with a differential, devastating impact on those most vulnerable –female-headed households, aged persons, people with disabilities, and children.

Access to basic services, including healthcare, is also diminishing.

“According to the World Health Organization, some 18.1 million people need health services, including 3.19 million children under five. Compounding all of this is the glaring absence of functioning national mechanisms to monitor human rights violations, severely limiting the ability to provide basic protection for the Afghan people, especially vulnerable groups such as children, people with disabilities, internally displaced people, minorities, and LGBTQI communities,” Bachelet said.

The High Commissioner is deeply troubled by the recent dissolution by the de facto authorities of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the key national mechanism providing support for Afghans facing violations of their human rights.

She urges the establishment of an independent human rights mechanism that can receive complaints from the public and bring problems and solutions to the attention of the de facto authorities.

“The path out of crisis for the people of Afghanistan cannot be paved with the efforts of a few. It will require concerted work by the de facto authorities, renewed space for civil society, and support by the international community to uphold the human rights – and the human dignity – of all Afghans. Let us commit with urgency to make this happen,” she said in conclusion.
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