AIHRC Annual Report 1 January 2005 - 31 December 2005

WORDS FROM THE CHAIR

This Annual Report marks the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission’s (AIHRC) third year, and one in which its influence and impact has become felt nationwide. At the time of writing this Annual Report, the AIHRC itself, like the current political situation in Afghanistan, is in transition. The Commission has undergone substantial growth in terms of staff, geographic coverage, program activities, and under the leadership of a new Executive is beginning a program of restructuring to increase our effectiveness. This year, the Transitional Justice Unit completed its historic nationwide survey in a report titled A Call for Justice. The report including recommendations was presented to President Karzai in January 2005. A Call for Justice presented the expectations and desires, held by everyday Afghans, of the new government during this critical stage of transition towards democracy, and was truly a historic moment for those who participated in the survey. It was the first time Afghans had been asked by a national human rights commission about their experience during the conflict, and of their opinions of how Afghanistan should move forward. Their voices reflect the AIHRC’s strongly held belief that there will be no peace without justice. Without justice and accountability, human rights will become nothing more than rhetoric. 

The AIHRC was pleased that the Presidential Elections went relatively smoothly, and at the great enthusiasm of women to use their right to vote. Although the elections were a phenomenal and historic moment for Afghanistan, there were some clear lessons from the process that should feed into the upcoming parliamentary elections. In addition to recommending close monitoring of the process by national and international observers, one of the strong recommendations of the AIHRC’s Presidential Election Monitoring Report was for an Independent Election Complaints Commission to be established for the Parliamentary elections in September 2005. While this has happily

occurred, we hope the Election Commission will not be viewed as solely responsible for addressing the problems in the parliamentary election process. The new commission must be supported by the judicial system, law enforcement agencies, and a robust vetting system of candidates. AIHRC will support the Election Complaints Commission to the best of our ability. However the context is not encouraging. Security has deteriorated markedly as the year has

progressed, with increased assassinations and murders of government officials and particular targeting of police. Foreigners are also being increasingly targeted for kidnapping attempts. The human rights situation for Afghan women has not significantly improved - illustrated painfully by the sentencing to stoning of a woman in Badakhshan on the orders of the local clergy and supported by the local community council. Most such violations are going unheard and unaddressed, thus further discouraging women’s active participation in society and politics. Women who speak out, or who press for their human rights continue to do so at great personal risk.

The fragile security situation is due to intangible reforms in the Security Sector, the slow pace ofreform within government and weak outcomes of the DDR program to which only lip service is being paid by powerful figures. The AIHRC believes that expanded reform of the justice sector would substantially improve security, as the current piece-meal reform is insufficient. The lack of security is undermining attempts to improve human rights and human security, and is fuelling child trafficking, land grabbing, torture by police and extra-judicial killings. At the same time, the Government and international community’s apparent prioritization of security over human rights presents additional problems and threats to a sustainable peace and the

Establishment of democracy. The government of Afghanistan and the international community, especially Coalition Forces, must recognize that human rights of Afghans must be protected and promoted. Democracy, development and peace in Afghanistan can only be sustained through justice and accountability – the cornerstones of human rights and national reconciliation. Finally I would like to thank the donor community, NGOs and individuals who supported and helped the AIHRC in fulfilling its challenging mandate and mission.

 

Dr. Sima Samar

Chairperson, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

 

AIHRC Annual Report 1 January 2005 - 31 December 2005: Details