Netherlands pledges EUR 4 million for Afghan human rights
The funds will go to improving women’s rights and national reconciliation programme in Afghanistan.9 May 2008
AFGHANISTAN - Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen began a short visit to Afghanistan on Thursday. The trip will include meetings with President Hamid Karzai and Dr Sima Samar of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).
Verhagen is to continue discussions with Karzai on the death penalty, media legislation, and the shortage of police in the province of Uruzgan. With Dr Samar, he will discuss human rights issues and the treatment of prisoners.
Verhagen admits that conditions in Afghan prisons are appalling. However, he maintains that no serious abuses are now taking place, thanks to an agreement with Afghanistan about the treatment of prisoners captured by Dutch troops and handed over to the Afghan authorities.
His remarks come in response to recent Dutch media reports of complaints by prisoners, which have led to questions in parliament.
The Foreign Minister wants to ask AIHRC to extend its prison visits from the capital Kabul to Uruzgan, and is prepared to offer the organisation logistical help to do so. "Because we want to prevent any semblance of abuse, independent monitoring is important."
During his trip Verhagen will be accompanied by his Slovakian counterpart Jan Kubis and the Slovakian minister of defence Jaroslav Baska. Slovakia is a new partner of The Netherlands in Uruzgan and recently agreed to send 250 troops.
At the start of his visit, Verhagen announced that The Netherlands would be providing EUR 2.5 million for the improvement of women's rights in Afghanistan.
The United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, is to receive EUR 1 million for projects to combat violence against woman. The rest of the money will go to the Asia Foundation, which is active throughout the country in improving women's access to justice.
The Netherlands will also give EUR 1.5 million to the International Centre for Transitional Justice, which promotes the national reconciliation programme in Afghanistan.
[Radio Netherlands / Expatica]