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The Commission on Human Rights should call on the Afghan government to speed up the process of disarming, demobilizing, and reintegrating illegal militia forces: to increase efforts to establish a functioning judicial system and professional police force; to increase efforts to provide education and employment to girls and women and provide the security necessary for them to participate in economic, cultural, and political activity; to take steps to ensure accountability for human rights abuses; and to cooperate fully with the United Nations human rights mechanisms.

Despite some improvements, Afghanistan continued to suffer from serious instability in 2004. Warlords and armed factions, including remaining Taliban forces, dominate most of the country and routinely abuse human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls. The international community has failed to contribute sufficient troops or resources to adequately address the situation, and basic human rights conditions remain poor in many parts of the country, especially outside of Kabul.  
The Elections. Progress was made in stabilizing Afghanistan's system of governance. Afghans began exercising their right to participate in the political process by approving a new constitution in January 2004, and elected Hamid Karzai to a five-year term as president in a generally peaceful election in October-the country's first universal suffrage, direct vote for the presidency. Afghans, including notable numbers of women, participated widely in both processes, but the legitimacy of both processes suffered due to inadequate election assistance from the international community and insufficient security and monitoring.  
The Role of Warlords. The marginalization of two major warlords-Marshall Fahim, the former first vice president and defense minister, and Ismail Khan, self-styled Emir of Herat-have raised hopes that President Karzai and the international community have begun to reverse their policy of relying on warlords to provide security.  
However, several key warlords remain in positions of influence. Political repression, human rights abuses, and criminal activity by warlords-the leaders of militias and remnants of past Afghan military forces, who took power with the assistance of the United States after the Taliban's defeat-are still consistently listed as the chief concerns of most Afghans. Local military and police forces, even in Kabul, have been involved in arbitrary arrests, kidnapping, extortion, torture, and extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects. Outside Kabul, warlords and their troops in many areas have been implicated in widespread rape of women and children, murder, illegal detention, forced displacement, human trafficking and forced marriage. Warlords and their troops have seized property from families and levied illegal per capita "taxes" (paid in cash or with food or goods) from local populations. In some remote areas, there are no real governmental structures or activity, only abuse and criminal enterprises by factions.  
Afghanistan was the largest worldwide producer of opium and heroin in 2004. Drug profits led to continuing insecurity in rural areas, and stifled reconstruction and development efforts, including efforts to improve rule of law.  
The Rights of Women. Women and girls continue to suffer the worst effects of Afghanistan's insecurity. Conditions are better than under the Taliban, but women and girls continue to face severe discrimination, and are struggling to take part in the political life of their country. Women who organize politically or criticize local rulers still face threats and violence. Soldiers and police routinely harass women and girls, even in Kabul city. Many women and girls continue to fear leaving their homes without wearing a burqa.  
The government of Hamid Karzai has continued to struggle to address Afghanistan's security and human rights problems, and efforts to build a new Afghan army, and a trained and professional police force, are behind schedule.  
U.N. member states have lagged in their efforts to provide an underlying security framework for reconstruction in Afghanistan, which has made it difficult for the U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) to carry out many parts of its mandate, including human rights monitoring. In addition UNAMA has often limited its criticisms of Afghan warlords and its efforts to monitor human rights and security. Today, there is little detailed and comprehensive human rights reporting being conducted by the international community in Afghanistan, except by NGOs.  
The U.N.-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is still mostly limited to Kabul city, though it has now expanded several small teams in northern and western areas.  
The Commission on Human Rights should call on the Afghan government to:  

  • Speed up its efforts to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate illegal militia forces, and work toward improving its police forces and judicial system;  
  • Provide support for efforts to design and implement systems of accountability to address Afghanistan's past record of war crimes and serious human rights abuses;  
  • Increase its efforts to provide security as well as material and political support necessary to integrate girls and women more fully into the country's economic, political, and cultural life;  
  • Respond promptly to informational inquiries from U.N. Rapporteurs and their requests to be invited to Afghanistan.  

The Commission should request UNAMA to work to:  

  • Increase the number of human rights monitors in the country and deploy more of them to regional centers where they can more robustly monitor human rights abuses;  
  • Publish appropriately critical reports on human rights conditions in the country, identifying warlords and other leaders who are implicated in serious abuses.  

The Commission should request the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a key member of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, to:  

  • Immediately expand its operations so as to provide much-needed security to the western, southern, and southeastern areas of Afghanistan;  
  • Immediately amend its mandate to assume greater responsibility for the protection of human rights.  

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