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Save Judith D’Souza: Open Letter To The President of Afghanistan

By William Gomes

13 June, 2016


Ashraf Ghani
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Dear President Ghani,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the abduction of human rights activist Judith D’Souza.

According to the Indian express, Judith D’Souza was abducted in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the 9th June night from the vicinity of Qala-e-Fatullah area of the city.

According to her LinkedIn profile, D’Souza had been working with the NGO, Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul as a senior technical adviser since July 2015. Before moving to Kabul, she had close to fifteen years of experience as a social and environmental specialist in West Bengal, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. D’Souza hails from Kolkata where she went to Loreto Day School. She completed her Bachelors in English Honours from St. Xaviers college, Kolkata and followed it up with a Masters in Social Work from University of Mumbai.

Since 2000, D’Souza has been working actively on gender issues, poverty and environmental conservation with reputed non-profit organizations in India. Some of the names she has worked with include International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and Gram Vikas, Orissa. She has also authored a number of research papers on water management systems.

Before having joined the Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul, D’Souza had been working as an independent consultant. She provided advice and developed assessment tools on rural development and gender strategies to the Ministry of Rural Development in India and international organizations such as WorldFish, Malaysia, IFAD and International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), Afghanistan.

As part of the Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul, D’Souza had been working towards conducting research and developing strategies for women empowerment.

The abduction of Judith D’Souza illustrate not only the dangers faced by women in Afghanistan, but the government’s failure to take concrete action to protect women under threat.

I express grave concern for the fate and whereabouts of Judith D’Souza. I believe that her abduction is directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

I urge the authorities in Afghanistan to:

Immediately take all necessary measures to locate human rights defender Judith D’Souza and to ensure his physical and psychological integrity and security.

Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the abduction of Judith D’Souza, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.

Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

– Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

– Article 5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, and participate in non-governmental organizations; and

– Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes is Human Rights Defender & Freelance Journalist Twitter @wnicholasgomes Email: [email protected]



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