UN experts call for immediate release of rights defender Fahim Azimi

UN experts, including UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett, on Monday demanded the immediate release of Afghan human rights advocate Ahmad Fahim Azimi who has been in Taliban custody for over six months.

Azimi, a prominent advocate for human rights and girls’ education, serves as the head of the Better Thinking Centre and director of the Digital Citizen Lab in Afghanistan.

Azimi was arrested on Oct. 17, 2023, alongside his colleague Siddiqullah Afghan, who has since been released.

The UN experts stated that both men were subjected to enforced disappearances for several weeks. Formal communications have been made with the Taliban regarding their situation.

“We urge the de facto authorities to also release Mr. Azimi without delay. There is no justification for his detention,” they emphasized.

The experts expressed deep concern over the arrests of numerous human rights defenders and education activists in Afghanistan, which appear to be linked to their advocacy for women’s and girls’ educational rights. “Access to education is a fundamental right. It is essential that those who work to extend this right are supported and protected, not persecuted,” they added.