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No political will to prosecute powerful perpetrators of sexual assaults in Afghanistan: HRW

13 Feb 2020 1TV News

There is no political will to prosecute powerful perpetrators of sexual assaults in Afghanistan, the Human Rights Watch said on Thursday, citing two recent cases.

HRW said that the Afghan authorities have failed to arrest senior officials of the Afghan Football Federation indicted for sexually assaulting female players and for participating in a cover-up of the abuse. It also said that provincial officials in Logar province are seeking to end an investigation into the sexual abuse of hundreds of schoolchildren and have threatened the activists who reported the abuse.

“Prosecuting sexual violence has long been difficult in Afghanistan, but the problems are magnified when the suspects are powerful people,”saidPatricia Gossman, HRW’s associate Asia director. “These two horrific cases are a litmus test of the Afghan government’s commitment to ending impunity for sexual violence.”

HRW said that while the Afghan Attorney General’s Office has initiated an investigation into the Logar allegations and 18 people have been arrested, no police or senior officials alleged to have been responsible for abuse were included in the arrests. Activists have told Human Rights Watch that provincial officials are seeking to terminate the investigation, regardless of whether it has made progress.

“Hundreds of children may have been sexually abused in Logar, yet government officials are threatening to end the case and providing survivors no support,” Gossman said. “Afghanistan’s donors should use their leverage to press the government to prosecute all those responsible and to protect witnesses.”

Referring to sexual assault allegations against AFF officials, HRW said that the federation’s former president, Keramuddin Karim, has yet to be arrested despite a warrant being issued by the Afghan attorney general in June.

It said that most of his accusers have left Afghanistan after receiving threats.

“The Afghan government is failing women every day that Keramuddin Karim is not arrested,” Gossman said. “The authorities also need to be investigating football federation officials who facilitated the abuse or helped cover it up.”

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