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Thursday, 26 November 2015 - Strasbourg
Afghanistan, in particular the killings in the province of Zabul

European Parliament resolution of 26 November 2015 on Afghanistan, in particular the killings in the province of Zabul (2015/2968(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on the situation of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan(1), and its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the negotiations on an EU-Afghanistan cooperation agreement on partnership and development(2),

–  having regard to the EU Local Strategy for Human Rights Defenders in Afghanistan in 2014,

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council resolution 2210 (2015) and to the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Afghanistan of 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the Conference on the Implementation and Support of the National Action Plan (UNSCR 1325) on Women, Peace and Security on 20 September 2015,

–  having regard to the UNAMA OHCHR midyear report of August 2015 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan for 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Afghanistan of 26 October 2015,

–  having regard to the 11 November 2015 statement by the UN mission condemning the ‘senseless murder’ of seven civilian hostages in Zabul,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas there are rising concerns about ethnic and sectarian persecution in Afghanistan, as the incidents of kidnappings and attacks that have been occurring for months target the Hazara which is considered to be the country’s third-largest ethnic group and the only one that is predominantly Shiite;

B.  whereas seven civilians were abducted in October 2015 and executed between 6 and 8 November 2015 in the Arghandab district, and armed clashes have been reported there between two rival groups of anti-government elements;

C.  whereas the mostly Shia Hazara people are one of the ethnic minorities recognised by the new Constitution of Afghanistan;

D.  whereas on 21 November 2015 a group of up to 30 Hazaras was attacked at gunpoint while travelling on a southern highway; whereas at least five other Hazaras traveling on a bus bound for Kabul were saved by other travellers who helped hide their identities after the bus was stopped by militants;

E.  whereas the killings in Zabul highlight the particular dangers faced by Hazaras; whereas Hazara bus passengers have been separated from other passengers, abducted and, in some cases, killed in a number of incidents over the last two years;

F.  whereas the killings highlight the continuing terrorist threat posed to civilians by the Taliban and its splinter groups, some of which have reportedly pledged their allegiance to Da’esh/ISIL;

G.  whereas the European Union has been an ongoing supporter of the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan since 2002 and is committed to a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan;

H.  whereas the EUPOL mission launched in 2007 to support the training of Afghan police forces helps to establish a penal/judiciary system under Afghan administration; whereas the Council decided in December 2014 to extend the mission until 31 December 2016;

I.  whereas, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission was completed at the end of 2014; whereas the new ‘Resolute Support Mission’ was launched in January 2015 to provide further training, advice and assistance for the Afghan security forces and institutions;

J.  whereas the murders of civilians, as well as the taking of civilian hostages, are serious violations of international humanitarian law, which all parties to the armed conflict – including all anti-government elements – are required to uphold;

K.  whereas security throughout Afghanistan continues to be a matter of serious concern on account of terrorist activities by the Taliban;

L.  whereas collateral damage continues to take place and results in dramatic numbers of casualties among innocent civilians, humanitarian personnel and even troops on peace-keeping missions;

M.  whereas the recent call by al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri on ISIL fighters to wage war against the international coalition is a further threat to NATO forces present in Afghanistan and to the country’s security;

1.  Strongly condemns the barbaric murder and beheading of seven Hazari people (two women, four men and a little girl) in the south-eastern Afghan province of Zabul on the border with Pakistan;

2.  Condemns the attacks by the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIL and other terrorist groups against Afghan civilians, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, democratic institutions and civil society, which are causing record numbers of casualties; stresses that protection of the Hazara community, as a group particularly vulnerable to Taliban and Da’esh/ISIL terrorist violence, should be a priority for the Afghan Government;

3.  Extends its condolences to the bereaved families, particularly of the recent victims of horrific killings in the Hazara community;

4.  Calls for support for the Afghan authorities to take swift and appropriate action to ensure that the killers of innocent civilians are brought to justice and to reaffirm the rule of law in the country;

5.  Calls on the Afghan authorities to ensure that security force personnel implicated in serious human rights violations, including those having command responsibility over forces committing abuses, are credibly and impartially investigated and disciplined or prosecuted as appropriate;

6.  Believes that murders of civilian hostages, including women and children, must be treated as war crimes; emphasises that the killing of innocent civilians is prohibited by International Humanitarian Law; reiterates that this law must be obeyed by all parties to the conflict, including splinter groups;

7.  Expresses deep concern regarding the serious security situation, the constant increase in violence, the terrorist acts leading to a spike in casualties and the constant threats to a population forced to live in a growing climate of fear and intimidation;

8.  Considers that national security is an essential basis for social and economic development, political stability and the future of Afghanistan;

9.  Calls on the Government of Afghanistan to intensify cooperation with the Government of Pakistan; emphasises that closer collaboration on security and governance matters would be of mutual advantage and would contribute to the promotion of peace and stability in the region;

10.  Calls on the Member States and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to remain fully engaged and to support the Afghan Government in the fight against the insurgency;

11.  Renews its commitment to all efforts to rid Afghanistan of terrorism and extremism and believes such endeavours are vital for regional and global security in order to build an inclusive, stable, democratic and more prosperous country;

12.  Remains committed to supporting the Afghan Government in its efforts to undertake key reforms, to further improve governance and the rule of law, to promote the respect of human rights, including women’s rights, to fight corruption, to counter narcotics, to improve fiscal sustainability and to foster inclusive economic growth; notes President Ashraf Ghani’s intention to make the fight against corruption one of his priorities;

13.  Reaffirms its support for the Afghan Government and its people in this critical phase; draws attention to the casualties suffered by the Afghan Defence and Security Forces since the end of the ISAF mission at the end of 2014; encourages the government to continue its efforts to step up the efficiency and operational effectiveness of the defence and security forces in order to provide the population at large with security and stability;

14.  Remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating human rights and security situation in Afghanistan, and in particular the implications this could have for women’s rights, religious and ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and journalists;

15.  Recalls the landmark Elimination of Violence against Women Law of 2009 and appeals to the authorities to focus more attention and funds on the protection of human rights defenders under threat or attack;

16.  Calls on the Government of Afghanistan to adopt an implementation plan for Afghanistan’s 1325 National Action Plan that includes a requirement for women to be full participants in all stages of peace negotiations;

17.  Recalls the commitments made by the Afghan Government to the international community with regard to the rights and protection of ethnic, linguistic, religious and other minorities;

18.  Strongly condemns recent Taliban attacks in Kunduz and the casualties inflicted on the civilian population and the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces; supports an independent investigation into the attack on the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, and calls for the neutrality of hospitals and medical facilities to be respected;

19.  Reiterates that it is of the utmost urgency that the Afghan Government and all partners in the region engage credibly to end the conflict and ensure a stable environment; reiterates that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process remains the prerequisite for any sustainable and long-lasting solution;

20.  Welcomes the decision to hold the comprehensive Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan in Brussels in 2016 as evidence of the international community’s ongoing commitment to the stabilisation and development of the country; expects the Conference to set out the framework for the Government of Afghanistan and donors until 2020, underpinned by concrete commitments by the Government of Afghanistan and the international community alike;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and the Parliament of Afghanistan.

(1) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 119.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0282.

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