Impunity prevails in Afghanistan

01 December 2010 by Michael E. Hartmann and Agnieszka Klonowiecka-Milart

Transitional Justice has not yet come to Afghanistan, notwithstanding the legacy of three eras of conflict: the communist/Soviet rule (1978–1992), rule of the mujaheddin (1992–1996), and the Taliban regime (1996–2001). This is due mainly to a lack of Constitutional authorisation and statutory tools, exacerbated by the 2010 Amnesty Law and an absence of political will.

All three conflict periods were marked by large-scale atrocities: crimes against humanity, war crimes, extrajudicial executions, and rape as a weapon of war, committed by combatants on all sides.

Members of all of Afghanistan’s major ethnic and political groups were implicated, and mass graves have been discovered belonging to all three periods of conflict. This is a précis of the barriers to transitional justice in Afghanistan.

As a result of an epic report by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) from 2004, and their continued research, there were high hopes five years ago for the "peace, reconciliation and justice action plan in Afghanistan."

The report contained some key actions, including criminal justice: “Establishment of effective and reasonable accountability mechanisms: In order to end impunity . . . and ensure that there will be no amnesty for war crimes (and) crimes against humanity . . . the conditions for fair and effective justice procedures are established in accordance with the principles of the sacred religion of Islam, international law and transitional justice.”

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