Soft approach to sidelining criminals

13 March 2006 by Adele Waugaman

Interview with Said Tayeb Jawad, Afghan Ambassador to the United States

On February 25, the Kabul National Security Court sentenced to death the first person to be tried and convicted for war crimes in Afghanistan. The organization Afghanistan Justice Project called the trial "fundamentally flawed." In an interview with IJT eight days before the verdict, the Afghan Ambassador to the United States discussed how justice in his country is being carried out in a sensitive political environment.

Why was a Human Rights Commission established in Afghanistan?

There is no doubt that during the past 30 years of war and violence in Afghanistan different groups have committed human rights violations, and all Afghans have not yet benefited from a peace dividend and the full protection of our constitution. In the past four years we have placed emphasis on stability and therefore in some areas justice was not delivered. If you emphasize justice in post-conflict countries without having a strong judicial system capable of sorting out the allegations from the true crimes, then instead of justice you will have revenge. But we will have to gradually deliver justice to people, and also work with different segments of the Afghan society to make them understand that forgiveness and reconciliation is the best way of keeping the country on the right track. If we go back and try to find out who did what, how far do we want to go? This may open some of the wounds that have already healed to some degree.

Will the justice effort in Afghanistan be based on a truth-seeking commission like the one used in South Africa?

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