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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Rights commission for Afghanistan
Candidates selected as Loya Jirga delegates
There have been many abuses of the election process

The leader of Afghanistan's interim administration, Hamid Karzai, has signed into law a human rights commission and a judicial commission.

Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai
Karzai said warlords were interfering
The details of the judicial commission have not yet been released, but both were called for in the Bonn peace accords of last December.

Allegations of human rights violations in the election of delegates to the Loya Jirga assembly, which will choose the next government, have been rife.

What to do about human rights abuses in a country where past violators still have weapons and political power is always difficult.

So it is not surprising then that the setting up of a human rights commission has been left until the interim administration is into its last two weeks in office.

Bloody past

The new body has a wide-ranging brief.

It will monitor and investigate abuses, set up education programs, start harmonising Afghan laws with international statutes, and begin to consider how to address the issue of past violations.


Very peaceful countries cannot have perfect electoral processes. So, for us, it was an achievement

Hamid Karzai
But Afghanistan's bloody past still feels very close.

During the past few weeks of elections of delegates to the Loya Jirga, or national assembly, which will shape the next government, there have been complaints of fresh violations by armed factions.

These include intimidation, kidnap and even murder.

Mr Karzai said about 50 percent of the delegates who would be at the Loya Jirga would be genuine representatives.

"There was intimidation by some warlords, there was intimidation by some other people, there was interference by some government officials in the process of this election," he said.

Mr Karzai added the process had gone "very well", despite certain difficulties.

"Very peaceful countries cannot have perfect electoral processes. So, for us, it was an achievement," he said.

Abuses

But the international group, Human Rights Watch, is less sanguine.

In a report detailing abuses in the south of Afghanistan, it said warlords were making a grab for power by brazenly manipulating the Loya Jirga selection process.

A district representative voting to elect his regional delegate to the loya jirga
Human Rights Watch has uncovered violence and intimidation

Many of the commanders there, it said, are associated with the Taleban, or the old fundamentalist Mujaheddin group Hezb-i-Islami.

Elsewhere in the country, abuses have been detailed by factions now in power, including intimidation by intelligence officials in Kabul.

Human Rights Watch has called for a key rule to be fully implemented: the ban on anyone attending the Loya Jirga who has committed human rights abuses or war crimes.

Meanwhile, with just three days to go before the Loya Jirga starts, 50 extra seats have been given out to provincial governors, core commanders, advisors, and what are being called 'leading personalities'.

Many of the new seats are going to men belonging to the armed factions.

The official explanation is that such men have traditionally been present at Loya Jirgas in Afghanistan.

But one official said the move was intended to keep some very powerful men inside the political process.


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See also:

05 Jun 02 | South Asia
13 May 02 | South Asia
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07 Mar 02 | South Asia
27 Sep 01 | South Asia
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