Switzerland maintains commitment to the promotion and observance of human rights in Afghanistan

Press release, 13.02.2019

Cooperation between Switzerland and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has been reaffirmed for a further five years. The agreement was signed today in Kabul by Thomas Gass, Assistant Director-General of the SDC, and the commission’s chairperson Sima Samar.

The AIHRC (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission) was founded in 2002. Switzerland has supported the AIHRC from the very beginning. Since the reopening of the Swiss cooperation office in Kabul, Switzerland has again been working for human rights, the rule of law and reliable institutions in this country in the Hindu Kush. In signing today’s agreement, Switzerland reaffirmed its continued support for the work of the commission. "The Human Rights Commission is an important and well-recognised defender of human rights in Afghanistan. We continue to support the commission in the conviction that continuity is important, especially in difficult contexts, if progress is to be made and our efforts are to bear fruit," said Mr Gass. By the end of 2023, Switzerland will spend CHF five million on promotion and observance of human rights in Afghanistan.

Since 2010, the AIHRC has been a fixed component of Afghanistan's national budget, thanks in large part to Switzerland's diplomatic efforts. Switzerland has stated that it wants the Afghan government to increase its financial commitment to enable the AIHRC to count on financial as well as political support and remain anchored in the national budget.

In the 17 years since its creation, the AIHRC has achieved considerable progress in a difficult environment. Today it is represented in all 34 provinces of the country and has contributed a great deal to Afghan people’s awareness of human rights. The commission has supported thousands of victims of human rights violations and improved the detention conditions of hundreds of prisoners. It has helped to ensure that human rights are enshrined in law and are an integral part of school curricula. Significant ongoing commitment – including from donors – has enabled the AIHRC to become a well-respected partner for politics and civil society alike, a commission capable of protecting its achievements and guaranteeing further progress in the field of human rights in Afghanistan.

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs