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HC SG Country Reports Afghanistan

Item 10: Technical assistance and capacity‑building (including the reports or oral updates of High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan and Libya). Statement by Norway on 21 March, as delivered by Minister Counsellor Herborg F. Alvsaaker.

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President,

Norway is encouraged by the talks between the US and the Taliban and other initiatives to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. A sustainable peace will require an intra-Afghan process between the government and other groups, including women and all ethnic and religious communities, and will depend on respect for human rights.

 

We thank the Office of the UNHCHR for this report, which is a reminder of human rights issues to be addressed urgently, both in general as well as through peace efforts. We are deeply concerned about the increase in civilian casualties and particularly saddened by the large number of children affected. We strongly condemn terror against civilians by non-governmental actors. We also encourage the government to strengthen efforts to prevent harm to civilians, and to engage further in the dialogue with UNAMA/OHCHR to improve the protection of civilians.

 

The elections last October demonstrated organizational weakness and faced security challenges. Significant improvements are necessary ahead of this year’s planned elections. Norway has condemned violence, threats and intimidations by non-governmental actors that targeted the infrastructure of the elections and voters exercising their democratic rights.

Afghanistan still has a long way to go to ensure gender equality and combat violence against women. We commend the government for having initiated further legislation to strengthen the status of women. Implementation is crucial. Norway will continue to support this work.

 

We commend the government for having adopted a revised penal code that defines torture broadly in line with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and for having acceded to the Optional Protocol of this convention. We are pleased that the revised penal code narrows the scope for the application of the death penalty and that no executions took place during the period of the report. We hope these will be steps toward the abolition of capital punishment.

 

Thank you.