Weak appointments undermine Afghan rights body

Kabul, June 18 (IANS) Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s appointment of a weakly qualified human rights commission with little public consultation raises concerns about the country’s most important rights body, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

On June 15, Karzai announced the appointment of five new commissioners to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), most of whom appear to have little or no record defending human rights.

Donors supporting Afghanistan and the AIHRC should closely monitor the effectiveness and independence of the commission and insist that it be allowed to do its work free of political pressure, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission plays an absolutely crucial role in protecting the rights of all Afghans, and it needs to have the right leadership to continue its crucial work,” said Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch.

“The five new commissioners have huge tasks ahead of them and need to show Afghans that they will be strong champions of their rights. Donors need to watch the work of the newly constituted commission every step of the way.”

The 1993 Paris Principles, which set out standards for national human rights institutions, provide that appointments should be made according to a procedure that ensures the broad representation of civil society involved in the protection and promotion of human rights.

The appointments were unexpectedly announced after a process that involved no discussion with or input from civil society organizations involved in human rights.

While President Karzai had some limited discussions earlier in the process with members of civil society, he never engaged broadly with the large and diverse Afghan human rights community, Human Rights Watch said.

The AIHRC has been in limbo since December 2011 when the most recent five-year terms of all nine previous commissioners expired, Human Rights Watch said.

At that time, Karzai announced his plans not to reappoint three of the commissioners.

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