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Afghanistan: Politics and Government

Volume 486: debated on Tuesday 20 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to protect Afghani parliamentarians who speak out in favour of the rights of women, children and other vulnerable populations from threats made against them; and if he will make a statement. (246544)

[holding answer 12 January 2009]: Together with our EU partners, the UK is committed to improving the human rights situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government and judiciary are obliged by law to respect these commitments. As part of our broader efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan, we are spending some £31 million on policing and rule of law activities during 2008-09.

The duty of protecting Afghanistan's citizens, including legislators, lies first and foremost with the Government of Afghanistan. Our continued presence in Afghanistan, providing both military (over 8,000 troops) and development/reconstruction assistance, helps to improve security for all of Afghanistan's citizens. As part of our wider efforts to improve the overall security situation and respect for law and order, we encourage the Afghan authorities to take seriously any credible threats against human rights defenders. Where appropriate, we also raise individual human rights cases with the government of Afghanistan, both publicly and in private. We also provide financial support to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which promotes, protects and monitors human rights.