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ID: 1433

Type of submission: Oral

Conference track: Advocacy

Topics: Community Mobilisation and Organising; Human Rights and Harm Reduction

Presenting author: Ata Rahman Hamid

Presenting author biography:

Ata Rahman Hamid is a trained lawyer and experienced trainer from Afghanistan. He has played a key role in supporting human rights and democracy in Afghanistan. He previously worked in an NGO for people with disabilities but has joined Bridge to fight for the rights and health of drug users.

In memory of Haji Hossin - Documenting, reporting and advocating for the human rights of people who use drugs in Afghanistan

Mat Southwell, Ata Rahman Hamid, Abdur Raheem Rajaey

In September 2016 Haji Hossin completed the training to become one of the peer educators at the new drug user led NGO, Bridge Hope and Health Organisation. A week after the course he was found by the Bridge Peer Workers under Pul-e-Sokhta, the notorious bridge in Kabul where 700 people who use drugs live, buy and use drugs. Haji had acute appendicitis but had been refused treatment because he was a drug user living with HIV. Haji was in extreme pain and distress and he was terrified that he was going to die. Bridge advocates, with the support of the Head of the National AIDS Control Programme and a local Harm Reduction NGO, advocated for Haji to be admitted to hospital in order to receive the emergency surgery he required. Later that night the Bridge team were contacted by peers to say that Haji's dead body had been dumped under Pul-e-Sokhta. He had been allowed to die without treatment. This human rights violation is shocking but sadly far from exceptional.

This paper will describe how Bridge's Legal Advisor, a trained lawyer, adapted an existing human right monitoring and advocacy system for use in Afghanistan based on a combination of international human rights law and national Afghanistan laws and Sharia law. The paper will describe how the team of Bridge Peer Workers were trained to document and advocate on human rights violations against PWUD. Haji's death could not be prevented but his memory is honoured by Bridge Hope and Health Organisation. Haji’s death became a symbol of the commitment of Afghan drug users to stand up for the rights of their peers and to challenge denial of the right to health, police brutality and other human rights violations against PWUD in Afghanistan.