1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Afghanistan

Revitalise transitional justice system - UN human rights commissioner

President Karzai has been urged to recommit to transitional justice agenda in Afghanistan.
(Abdullah Shaheen/IRIN)

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the international community involved in Afghanistan must recommit to the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice (APPRJ) - known as transitional justice - which is expected to address crimes committed in the past three decades in the war-torn country, said the UN high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour.

At the end of her week-long visit to Afghanistan, Arbour told IRIN it was time to renew the already missed deadlines for APPRJ targets, set two years ago.

“It is unthinkable to expect a full implementation of this whole document [transitional justice] within three years. It should be recommitted and renewed,” Arbour said.

Backed by the UN and several other international actors, the government and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) set an ambitious three-year agenda for the implementation of transitional justice in late 2005.

The APPRJ calls for the documentation of past crimes, the identification of alleged criminals, compensation to victim families, remembrance of all victims and prosecution of human rights violators.

Almost two years later, however, the AIHRC says the transitional justice project has been a “complete failure” due to various problems - mainly lack of political commitment and support.

Reiterating the AIHRC’s concerns, Arbour said: “I am very disappointed at the lack of progress in implementing the commitments made by the government and supported by the international community under the APPRJ.”

Need to broaden national debate about transitional justice

Whilst the UN and the AIHRC confirm there has been a lack of progress in all aspects of APPRJ, Arbour criticised concentration only on the prosecution of alleged criminals “some of whom continue to hold high positions”.

“Transitional justice is a multi-faceted process, which focuses on the needs of the victims - for truth, for compensation, for rehabilitation - as well as on the punishment of the perpetrator,” Arbour told journalists in Kabul on 20 November.

Afghanistan should re-energise and broaden its national debate about transitional justice, she added.

The UN top human rights official, meanwhile, called on the world body and the wider international community to provide better support and assistance to the Afghan government in the implementation of transitional justice.

“There is a sense that there is not a strong commitment very much from the international community and other actors to follow the implementation of transitional justice,” she said.

ad/at/cb


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join