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UN Experts Demand Immediate Release of Afghan Human Rights Defender

Geneva, UN experts have called for the immediate release of Ahmad Fahim Azimi, a prominent Afghan human rights defender who has been imprisoned for more than six months by Afghanistan’s de facto authorities.

According to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Azimi is the head of the Better Thinking Centre and director of the Digital Citizen Lab in Afghanistan. He was detained on 17 October 2023 alongside his colleague Siddiqullah Afghan, who has since been released.

Both Azimi and Afghan were subjected to enforced disappearance for several weeks after their initial detention. UN experts have formally communicated with Afghanistan’s de facto authorities about the case, emphasizing that there is no justification for Azimi’s ongoing imprisonment.

“We urge the de facto authorities to also release Mr. Azimi without delay,” the UN experts stated. “We are gravely concerned about the wave of arrests of human rights defenders and education activists in Afghanistan, seemingly in connection with their work and advocacy for women’s and girls’ right to education. Access to education is a fundamental right, and it is essential that those who strive to expand this right are supported and protected, not persecuted.”