Committee Against Torture: Afghanistan

CAT session 060 (2017)

(12 June 2017, CAT/C/AFG/CO/2, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 21, 23, 24, 39 and 40)

“While noting the State party’s efforts to combat non-State armed insurgency and terrorist groups, the Committee deplores the presence of a wide range of armed groups, including the Taliban, Da’esh and Hizb-i Islami, perpetrating severe human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killing and corporal punishment, such as flogging and stoning. The Committee is concerned by the numerous reports documenting the increase of propaganda promoting violent extremism in Afghanistan, including in some educational institutions, fostering the adhesion and support of part of the Afghan population to the Taliban. It also deplores the deliberate attacks on civilians perpetrated by those groups, causing a large number of deaths and injuries among civilians, as indicated in the reports of UNAMA and the most recent report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (A/HRC/34/41) (arts. 2, 4 and 12-14).”

“While welcoming the delegation’s affirmations that the new Law on the Prohibition of Torture now includes a definition of torture that is identical with article 1 of the Convention, the Committee remains concerned that the legislation is not yet fully harmonized with the Convention, notably with regard to the lenient penalties, such as midterm sentences ranging from 3 to 5 years’ imprisonment for the crime of torture under the Penal Code. The Committee furthermore deplores:

(a)The absence of clear legal provisions ensuring that other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are also clearly prohibited and criminalized as separate offences;

(b)The absence of legal provisions ensuring that victims have access to reporting mechanisms without fear of intimidation or reprisals from authorities;

(c)That the Penal Code does not clearly prohibit corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation of limbs and stoning, practices which amount to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (arts. 1, 2 and 4).

“The Committee requests the State party:

(a) To ensure that the new Law on the Prohibition of Torture including a definition of torture that covers all the elements contained in article 1 of the Convention is properly enforced under its jurisdiction;

(b) To ensure that penalties for torture and statutory limitations are commensurate with the gravity of the crime;

(c) To amend its legislation in order to prohibit and establish other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as separate offences;

(d) To legally ensure that victims have access to reporting mechanisms of which they may avail themselves without fear of intimidation or reprisals from authorities;

(e) To amend its legislation in order to clearly prohibit all forms of corporal punishment, as they amount to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of the Convention.”

“While taking note of the State party’s affirmations that informal parallel judicial mechanisms, in particular jirga courts, may only hear civil cases and commending that the Government strives to build the capacity of ordinary courts in rural areas to reduce the number of cases referred to jirga courts or any other parallel justice system, the Committee is seriously concerned by the sentences still imposed by jirga courts and other forms of dispute resolution systems on the Afghan population, in particular on women, notably for so-called “moral crimes”, including the death sentence and corporal punishment, that amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (arts. 2, 4 and 16).

“The State party should:

(a) Set up an effective system for monitoring and revising decisions of jirga courts in order to ensure that State officials do not recognize or carry out the judgments of parallel judicial mechanisms that exculpate perpetrators from crimes committed in the name of so-called “ honour ”, that call for women to be subjected to corporal punishment or that are otherwise inconsistent with the State party’s obligations under the Convention”

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