Musa Mahmudi and Ehsanullah Hamidi, both well-known human rights defenders from Logar province, were arbitrarily detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on November 21, after they exposed alleged sexual abuse against children, Amnesty International said today.
They were on their way to meet with the European Union ambassador in Kabul when Afghanistan’s top intelligence agency detained them.
The two human rights defenders began receiving threats, including from local officials in Logar, on Facebook after they gave interviews to The Guardian and Afghanistan’s TOLO News about the existence of a paedophile ring in the area.
The human rights defenders uncovered more than 100 videos of the alleged abuse. Some of the victims of abuse have been murdered, according to The Guardian.
“Afghanistan’s intelligence agency must immediately release these human rights defenders immediately. While in custody of the National Directorate for Security, they are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Rather than punishing them for speaking out against these horrific crimes, the authorities should praise them for their work and hold the suspected perpetrators accountable through fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty,” said Samira Hamidi, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.
One day before he disappeared, Musa Mahmudi told a fellow Afghan human rights defender that he feared for his safety and that the NDS was planning to arrest him. He added that he was worried that he was under surveillance.
Musa Mahmudi said that he had also received death threats, accusing him of “dishonouring the people of Logar.”
In August 2019, Amnesty International published a briefing entitled, “Defenceless Defenders: Attacks on Afghanistan’s Human Rights Community,” where the organization detailed how the Afghan government has persistently failed to investigate attacks on human rights defenders – sometimes accusing them of ‘fabricating’ their claims, declining to offer them protection; telling them to arm themselves instead. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)