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AIHRC in limbo, Karzai takes his time.

Despite lobbying by civil society, the president's office has not selected new commissioners to fill the vacancies in the national human rights institution.

On May 16, 2011, the five-year terms of three of the AIHRC's (Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission) nine commissioners - Nader Nadery, Fahim Hakim and Mawlawai Ghulam Muhammad Gharib - came to an end. "The AIHRC is in a suspended situation. The president sent neither dismissal letters nor letters extending their terms," Abdul Rahman Hotaky of the Human Rights and Environment Protection Organisation (HREPO) asserts.

Nadery and Hakim were founding members of the AIHRC. While Nadery was also a spokesman for the AIHRC, Hakim was the deputy head of the independent rights commission established under internationally acknowledged principles for national human rights institutions, the so-called Paris Principles adopted by the UN in 1993.

Zia Bomia, secretary of Civil Society Coordination Jirga grouping, which includes Hotaky's HREPO, said the delay has thwarted AIHRC's plans to publish a report of war crimes, generally known as the 'mapping report'.

The mapping report, which has been complied over the last few years, builds on an earlier UN report that was finished in early 2005, but was held back under Afghan and US government pressure and later leaked.

The mapping report is expected to be an exhaustive account of war crimes, murders, torture in jails and private detention after the fall of Daud Khan, Afghanistan's first president. Khan was assassinated in 1978.

Researchers are believed to have collected information about war crimes linked to high-ranking individuals in the Karzai administration, including close advisers of the president.

Old resentments The appointment of four new commissioners - Commissioner Hamida Barmaki was killed in a suicide blast in January last year - has created rifts in civil society. The Civil Society Coordination Jirga is asking for the removal of all the commissioners, while the established networks like Afghanistan Women's Network (AWN) and Transitional Justice Coordination Group Commission say that would weaken the AIHRC. Bomia accuses the Commission of being soft on transitional justice. The mapping report is unlikely to be published by the Commission, he believes. According to him, each time the issue of changing the commissioners pops up "they (AIHRC) raise the issue of the mapping report to frighten high-ranking authorities in the government." He thinks the Commission would drop the report if the government backs off from changing the commissioners.

Asadullah Sadatia, a member of parliament (MP), insists there are other "political" reasons for the delay in appointing commissioners. President Karzai may not have been able to find malleable candidates, he thinks. Already influential politicians are lobbying to put their candidates in the Commission. Who has more influence and clout is important in the corridors of power in Kabul.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Abdul Karim Azizi was dismissed by Sima Samar, the head of the Commission. Azizi said he was given no reason for his ouster. "I was trying to prevent illegal action inside the Commission. But they say that I have damaged the national and international prestige of the Commission," he is quoted saying.

Hotaky insists the dismissal was an "action of enmity". Procedures should have been followed, he points out. "If a Commissioner violates the human rights principles of the Commission, a meeting of Commissioners would take a decision. The issue would be referred to the president, who has to issue the order," he explained.

MP Mohammad Abdah says the AIHRC cannot be left in limbo. "The president is obliged to either extend the term of Commissioners whose term has ended or decide to appoint new Commissioners."

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Publication:Killid Weekly
Date:Oct 22, 2012
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