President Ashraf Ghani’s remarks on the sexual abuse allegations against women’s soccer team players

President Ashraf Ghani’s remarks on the sexual abuse allegations against women’s soccer team players

December 3, 2018

[President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani]

Distinguished Attorney General, Dr. Mohib, Mr. Rahimi, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

First I would like to congratulate Mr. Abdurahimzai. We are looking forward to more accomplishments from you. You have achieved much at this young age; I am sure you will accomplish even more in the future. Our National Olympic Committee should invest more on him for better outcomes. I would also like to congratulate Ms. Asghari. She has earned herself and Afghanistan distinction. Her achievement brings joy to all of us. I am confident that Afghan women will shine even more. And as always will uphold Afghan and Islamic values while representing us. I also thank International Olympic Committee for its support to victims of Dasht-e-Barchi bombing; the Attorney General will work with our Olympic Committee to ensure the funds are distributed justly and transparently. In the meantime while we celebrate our accomplishments in the field of sports, some international media outlets have reported about alleged sexual abuses in Afghan Football Federation. The Guardian and some other international TV channels have brought this issue under the spotlight; it is shocking to all Afghans. Any kind of misconduct against athletes, male and female, is not acceptable. I ask Mr. Attorney General to conduct a thorough investigation compliant with our legal codes into the issue. Even if mere allegations cause our people to stop sending their sons and daughters to sports, we need to act immediately and comprehensively. I do not tolerate sexual abuse. It has to be clear that I stand firm to protect our Islamic and societal morals. No power on earth can abuse our children. We have to have a framework in place to mitigate such incidents in our sports federations. I respect the independence of Attorney General Office’s conduct. But my stance as an Afghan citizen is that we will not tolerate abuse of authority to sexually exploit people. We have full faith in integrity and transparency of Mr. Attorney General’s conduct, and request from him to share with us how he will approach this issue since legal proceedings have many technical aspects.

Mr. Attorney General, we thank you for coming here to celebrate accomplishments of our athletes. We would also like to hear from you what steps have you taken to probe this allegation and take us to the bottom of the matter to find out whether the allegations are baseless or accurate, in which case strict application of law shall be ensured. Please.

[Attorney General Farid Hamidi]

 In the name of Allah, the most gracious and compassionate.

H.E. President of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, NSA, Mr. Mohib, Mr. Rahimi, Director of National Olympic Committee, Mr. Ajmal Ghani, senior adviser to the H.E. the President and dear sportsmen and sportswomen. As Mr. President said, including him and I, as your servant, have inherited crises and suffer from it on daily basis and serve the public under immense pressure. Our moments of pride and joy are when you bring glory to our nation. I pray for your success. Your accomplishments are a gift to our war-torn and poverty stricken nation. As Mr. President said, rule of law and justice protects the rights and honor of athletes and families who send their sons and daughters to pursue a profession in sports. The day this allegation surfaced, we translated the report from English and tasked a team under one of Attorney General’s Office’s directorates, including director of Criminal Investigation at Ministry of Interior, director of Investigations at Attorney General’s Office, director of Elimination of Violence against Women and one of our appeal attorneys from the South to start investigating the matter. We formulated a plan yesterday to conduct a comprehensive and just investigation, and the investigation has started this morning. We sought a list of the athletes and staff who went on tour to Jordan; we are expecting the list to reach us tomorrow. We have photographed all the areas where the alleged abuse took place. The specialist technical team from Ministry of Interior under the supervision of our attorneys and the team we tasked have visited and investigated the alleged crime scene and submitted the data they collected. I would like to assert in front of our athletes, the President and people of Afghanistan that we will proceed with this investigation transparently, justly and comprehensively. We always uphold principles of justice in our investigations and prosecutions, but this case is of absolute importance to us because it has raised concerns among our people and disrupted public perception. Secondly, this has damaged the reputation of our sports community and especially affected women athletes and shaken their trust who want to bring pride to our nation adversely. It is very sensitive to us. We are conducting a thorough investigation into this. I would also like the Olympic Committee to introduce a focal point to us so we can update the Committee and all other athletes through the focal point on the proceedings and prove that the Afghan government is committed to protect all citizens’ rights, especially our athletes. In the meantime, we sent an invite for the day after tomorrow to civil society organizations including those who advocate for women’s rights to brief them on the proceedings. We are hoping to conclude our investigations by the end of the week and publicize our preliminary findings. I would like to reiterate that we are conducting a thorough, comprehensive and just investigation to ensure justice prevails.