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Afghanistan: Appoint Experts to Human Rights Commission

Karzai Should Pick Independent, Experienced, Dedicated Commissioners

Thursday 19 January 2012, by Human Rights Watch

(New York) – President Hamid Karzai should appoint independent and experienced human rights experts to fill vacancies on the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), Human Rights Watch said today. The presidential selection of any new commissioners should ensure that the commission maintains its credibility and effectiveness. The most recent five-year terms of all nine commissioners expired in December 2011.

“The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission has played a crucial role in helping to remedy Afghanistan’s challenging human rights situation,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Any action that weakens the commission will have direct and negative implications for the Afghan people.”

Established in accordance with the Bonn Agreement of 2001 and codified in the Afghan constitution, the commission is the main institution within the Afghan government responsible for promoting human rights. Although the commission is a government body, with commissioners appointed by the president, it is by law independent.

The commission’s responsibilities includemonitoring the general human rights situation in Afghanistan, investigating specific human rights violations, making recommendations to the government and settinggovernment policy, and assisting individual Afghans whose rights have been violated.

Human Rights Watch called on Karzai to fully consider the views of Afghan human rights organizations and activists in making his selection of new commissioners.

The Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, explain how appointments to national human rights institutions such as the AIHRC should be made. The principles emphasize that appointments to these institutions should be made in an inclusive and transparent way, involving all of a country’s key groups responsible for upholding human rights.

The commissioners selected should have a proven record as effective advocates for human rights. All candidates should also be screened carefully to ensure that they are above any suspicion of involvement in human rights abuses.

“New commissioners should be selected through a transparent process that strengthens confidence in the commission and in the government’s commitment to human rights,” Adams said. “President Karzai should ensure his appointments are experts with a life-long commitment to human rights and reject out of hand anyone with a background of human right abuse.”

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