Afghanistan has suffered decades of conflict, resulting in severe human rights violations for which there has been little accountability. ICTJ works in Afghanistan to help document past abuses and advocate for justice-sensitive policies.
From 1978–2001 Afghanistan experienced a communist coup, a Soviet invasion, a mujahideen insurgency and a severely repressive Taliban rule. Systematic and widespread violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed during this period included murder, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, forced disappearances, and gender and ethnic discrimination.
A US-led military attack in 2001 resulted in the fall of the Taliban regime. From 2001–2011, some attention has been given to human rights through the establishment of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and support to developing independent media and civil society.
However, many important reconstruction processes—including disarmament efforts, elections, and legal reform—failed to uphold minimum levels of accountability. Many individuals with questionable human rights records found their way back to power.
From 2001–2005, the Afghan public began to discuss justice issues through AIHRC’s national consultation on justice. A clear sign that many Afghans strongly support justice and accountability measures, the consultation prompted the government’s adoption of an action plan for Peace, Justice and Reconciliation.
A deteriorating security situation stalled implementation of this plan. In 2007 parliament adopted a bill which, with few exceptions, gave blanket amnesty for all violations committed during the conflicts. The bill was later also approved by the president.
In 2010, faced with an escalating insurgency, the government gave increasingly clear signs that it intended to negotiate with the Taliban and other insurgents. To date, little attention has been given to issues of accountability in these negotiations.
Civil society actors and others seek to ensure that the so-called “reconciliation” efforts acknowledge victims’ views and preserve the possibilities of future justice initiatives.
ICTJ has worked in Afghanistan since 2002, seeking to promote justice-sensitive policies in Afghanistan.
We work with local partners to ensure that victims’ concerns and issues of justice and accountability are included in the political process, and to preserve the limited space available to promote human rights.