Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Civil Society | Transitional Justice | Removing HR Monitors

Last week three of the nine members of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) were removed from their posts. The commission is one of the most successful, outspoken and respected institutions of post-Taleban Afghanistan.

This is how it is described by Patricia Grossman yesterday in an NYT Op-Ed.

“Watershed moments in Afghanistan happen by stealth. Last weekend — the anniversary of the Soviet invasion 32 years ago — President Hamid Karzai rid himself of his most outspoken critic, a prominent official with one of the few government institutions in Afghanistan that actually performs well — the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. The move, announced Thursday, seems intended not only to silence a critic but bury the truth about the crimes of the past.”
Kabul's Stealth Attack on Human Rights

Thomas Ruttig details the impact this will have on the work of the organization.
“Nader Nadery and Fahim Hakim have been part of the AIHRC since its establishment, and driving forces for human rights and democratic development in Afghanistan. Some of our members know Nader from pre-AIHRC times already when he and friends were operating a small human rights organisation from a ramshackle office in a not very inviting part of Peshawar while the Taleban were still in power. From there, they regularly travelled into Afghanistan, contributing to our knowledge about the situation in the country. Nader also came to the 2001 Bonn conference as part of a fifth delegation, composed from pro-democracy activists in the Afghan underground and in exile which was excluded from the conference table at the last hour in order ‘to reduce the number of actors’ (Lakhdar Brahimi).

As commissioner for the AIHRC, Nader has had a particular focus on transitional justice, as well as on war crimes (civilian casualties) committed as part of the current conflict. He managed the national consultations that resulted in the A Call for Justice report documenting opinions about how to deal with the legacies of conflict and was the commissioner most keenly involved in developing the government Action Plan for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation. For the past three years, he has managed the commission’s documentation of war crimes covering the period 1978 to 2001, the commission’s contribution to the implementation of the government action plan.”
Another Blow to Justice: Three Commissioners Fired from the AIHRC

Some background from last year by Sari Kouvo.
“In 2003, the UNHCHR initiated a much more modest mapping exercise in Afghanistan. Based on open source material, most of it the UN’s own, a team of three consultants compiled a 300 page report on human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan in the civil war years between 1978 and 2001. The report contains detailed accounts of indiscriminate bombings, massacres, illegal detention, torture, rape and looting from the communist period to the fall of the Taliban regime. In January 2005, then UNHCHR Louise Arbour travelled to Kabul to release the mapping report simultaneously with the release of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission’s national consultation about Afghans’ opinions about how to deal with legacies of human rights violations and war crimes, entitled “A Call for Justice”. At the eleventh hour a decision was taken not to release the UN mapping report. The UNHCHR participated in the launch of the AIHRC’s “A Call for Justice” report, and handed a copy of her report to the Commission as a basis for future documentation work. Commissioner Arbour then met with President Karzai and presented him with a copy of the report. The report has to date not been officially released, but copies of it have done the rounds of human rights organizations, embassies, web sites etc.”
Facts for Reconciliation: Human Rights Documentation Needed

Additional Resources:

UN Mapping Report on Human Rights Violations and War Crimes (1979 – 2001)

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Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
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