July 13, 2010

IV. Recommendations

Human Rights Watch supports the document from Afghan women civil society leaders, “Reactions to the Final Outcome Communiqué of The London Conference,” issued on January 29, 2010. It includes the following recommendations:

  • Women should be consulted by and represented on all authorities developing the national peace and reintegration program.
  • The proposed Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund to finance the Afghan-led peace and reintegration programs should ensure that a proportion of the financial incentives to communities to support reintegration be used to support women’s empowerment and development and the protection of their human rights through rigorous monitoring and redress.
  • The government of Afghanistan’s commitment to continue development of a national security strategy should be consistent with UN Security Council resolutions that address women’s rights and conflict (including SCR 1325, which recognizes women’s vital role in achieving peace and security, 1820 and 1888 on the prevention and prosecution of sexual violence in armed conflict, and 1889 which seeks to promote the involvement of women during the post-conflict and reconstruction periods).
  • A National Action Plan on Women’s Peace and Security should be integrated as a core element of the national security policy, and a quota of women’s representation in all peace and security deliberations be established.[176]

Reintegration and Reconciliation

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • Ensure that all those who agree to the reconciliation process have made explicit their acceptance of the constitutional guarantees of equality for men and women, including the right to an education, the right to work, and the right to participate in political life. 
  • Mandate the Constitutional Oversight Committee (appointed but not yet operational) to ensure that reintegration and reconciliation do not breach the constitutional guarantees of women’s rights.
  • Ensure that the reconciliation process includes all elements of society, including women, and ethnic and religious minorities.
  • Commit to a timeline for advancing the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation, and Justice in advance of or in tandem with a reconciliation process.
  • Ensure that the High Level Peace Council and the Joint Secretariat for Peace, Reintegration and Reconciliation Programs have a specific mandate to consider the impact of reintegration and reconciliation upon the rights of women and girls.
  • Ensure that background checks are carried out on insurgent commanders to be considered for reintegration and reconciliation, and that political and bureaucratic positions at the district, provincial, or national level are not offered to those who have a track record of rights abuses, including attacks on schools and threats or attacks against women. Reintegrated or reconciling ex-combatants should also be subject to vetting procedures for government positions.
  • Include in reintegration and rehabilitation of former insurgents, appropriate training on women’s rights enshrined in the Afghan constitution, Afghan law (such as the Elimination of Violence Against Women law), and international human rights law.

Women’s Representation  

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • Ensure that women are represented on the High Level Peace Council and the Joint Secretariat on Peace, Reintegration and Reconciliation Programs, and that women are represented and able to play an effective role in any negotiations by the government with insurgent factions.  
  • Ensure that women are represented at decision-making levels in all national and regional discussions and decisions about reintegration and reconciliation. Ensure that women are chosen in a transparent way, and that their representation is acceptable to women activists and politicians, in order to avoid tokenistic representation by government loyalists. The Afghan Women’s Network, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and women parliamentarians should select or approve women’s representation.
  • Ensure that women are represented on village and district councils that will play a key role in reintegration plans.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure that women are better represented in all government ministries and bodies, including those ministries involved in reintegration and reconciliation, such as the Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, the Independent Directorate of Local Government, the Ministry of Interior, the Office of the Presidency, the Ministry of Defense, the National Security Directorate, and the Ministry of Agriculture.

Human Rights Watch calls on the international military forces in Afghanistan to:

  • Provide assistance for government background checks and vetting of those to be included in reintegration and reconciliation programs, and offer verification of background checks where intelligence is available, particularly regarding those being considered for political office.
  • Recognize that civilian casualties, night raids and detention practices have helped fuel the insurgency, continue efforts to reduce unnecessary deaths, and fully investigate and hold accountable military personnel responsible for wrongful acts.
  • Ensure that international military assistance to reintegration efforts does not exacerbate impunity or corruption, and that any engagement with communities or individuals seeking reintegration or reconciliation involves adequate intelligence and background checks for serious allegations of human rights abuses including attacks on women and girls’ education.
  • Ensure that women’s security is a key consideration for the international military in all its reintegration and reconciliation efforts, including funding that is separate from the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, such as the Commanders’ Emergency Response Program.

Human Rights Watch calls on the UN and international donors to:

  • Provide oversight of the reintegration and reconciliation process so that it does not contravene UN Security Council Resolutions including Resolution 1325, which recognizes women’s vital role in achieving peace and security, Resolutions 1820 and 1888 on the prevention and prosecution of sexual violence in armed conflict, and Resolution 1889 which seeks to promote the involvement of women during the post-conflict and reconstruction periods.
  • Make women’s meaningful participation in relevant decision-making bodies a precondition for funding reintegration programs, and ensure that reintegration funds benefit families and communities, including women, rather than individual ex-combatants.
  • Include in the mandate of the oversight body the monitoring of ex-combatants being considered for reintegration and reconciliation, particularly those who are being considered for government office. Monitor detainee releases associated with the reintegration and reconciliation process to ensure that the release of detainees is not subject to political interference. 
  • Urge the Afghan government to repeal the Amnesty Law and to refrain from financially supporting or publically endorsing any reconciliation process that does not exclude individuals against whom there are credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights abuses. 

Attacks on Women in Public Life

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • Publicly condemn all attacks against women in public life.
  • Ensure that sufficient security is provided for women in public life who are under threat, and that government security is provided to individuals on the basis of need rather than status or favor. Consider an oversight mechanism to ensure that security provision is needs based.
  • Give priority to investigations into assassinations and other attacks on women in public life, ensure all reported attacks are recorded, prosecute the perpetrators, and identify preventive measures.
  • Ensure that women are appointed to key political roles, including as ministers and deputy ministers.

Attacks on Girls’ Access to Education

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • Publicly condemn all attacks against schools.
  • Investigate all attacks on education and prosecute those responsible.
  • Ensure that the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Interior, the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice share information on perpetrators of attacks on schools, and that this information is also shared with the High Level Peace Council, the Joint Secretariat on Peace, Reintegration and Reconciliation Programs, and with the committee reviewing security detainees (created in June 2010).
  • Any outreach to insurgent factions should demand the immediate cessation of intimidation of female students, women teachers, and attacks on schools.
  • Prioritize recruiting and training of women teachers and provision of sufficient girls’ classes and schools. Consult with communities (including those communities who are being targeted for reintegration and reconciliation) on how to improve girls’ access to school, including demands for more women teachers, transport assistance for girls, and segregated schooling. (See also our December 2009 report, “‘We have the Promises of the World’: Women’s Rights in Afghanistan” (http://www.hrw.org/en/node/86805)).

Transitional Justice

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • Recognize that a lasting peace will have to address underlying grievances, including addressing past crimes. Consider the use of forums such as the Consultative Peace Jirga to start a national discussion on healing the wounds of the decades of war, how to bring justice for victims of rights abuses, and how to provide protection to vulnerable communities.
  • Repeal the Amnesty Law, and ensure that those against whom there are credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights abuses are excluded from the reconciliation process.
  • Commit to a timeline for advancing the Action Plan for Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in advance of or in tandem with a reconciliation process.
  • Strengthen existing vetting and complaints mechanisms for elections as well as political, bureaucratic, and judicial appointments so that individuals against whom there are credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights abuses from all existing and former armed factions are excluded from public office.
  • Build transparent and credible dispute resolution and accountability mechanisms into the reintegration and reconciliation process, including measures to address grievances against government officials. Ensure that the government officials implementing these accountability mechanisms are not themselves subject to complaints from the local communities.

Governance Reform

Human Rights Watch calls on the government of Afghanistan to:

  • In order to address some of the underlying causes of the insurgency, and to improve the prospects of building a lasting peace, take significant steps to increase the pace of governance reform to better protect the rights and fundamental freedoms of the population.
  • Ensure the independent and impartial vetting under Afghan law of all candidates for political office, senior security and civil service positions, in order to exclude individuals against whom there are credible allegations of human rights abuses, links to armed groups or criminal activities. This will involve strengthening the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee and the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission (IARCSC), creating a body to vet judicial appointments, and strengthening electoral vetting to include checks for credible allegations of human rights abuses. These steps will also make the vetting of ex-combatants less vulnerable to charges of unfairness. 
  • Ensure that newly created and strengthened accountability bodies transparently investigate allegations of human rights abuses and corruption against officials at all levels in the government and security services, and that those found responsible are removed from office and appropriately prosecuted.

Human Rights Watch calls on the UN and international donors to:

  • Ensure that the Afghan government makes significant progress on governance reforms, to address underlying grievances and dissatisfaction with the government, and improve the prospects for a lasting peace. Where possible make aid, including the Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, conditional on demonstrable improvements in justice and accountability.

[176] “Reactions to the Final Outcome Communiqué of The London Conference,” January 29, 2010,  http://peacewithjustice4afghanistan.blogspot.com/2010/02/kabul-press-conference-reactions-from.html.