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To the United Nations, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and the Islamic State of Afghanistan:

Human Rights Watch urges the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and other relevant U.N. agencies to undertake an immediate investigation into the massacres in question, and urges the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the administration established by the Taliban movement) and the Islamic State of Afghanistan (the administration established by the United Front) to cooperate fully with her office to ensure that an impartial inquiry is carried out speedily.

Any U.N. investigation should include the following measures:

    · The investigation into the Yakaolang massacre in particular should begin promptly while there is still an opportunity to collect physical evidence.
    · The investigation team should include persons qualified to conduct human rights investigations in the field under the constraints likely to obtain at both sites, and should include a forensic expert with experience in exhumations of graves and analysis of remains.
    · The terms of reference should provide clear guidelines for the work of the investigation team and the scope of its report, including in particular:

      1. Identification of individuals, including senior military officers and government officials, responsible for giving orders or otherwise directing actions of their subordinates that violate human rights and humanitarian law.
      2. Identification of patterns of abuses, including ethnicity or other characteristics of persons targeted for arrest or killing, neighborhoods targeted, and so on.

    · The High Commissioner should communicate the findings of the investigation to relevant authorities in Afghanistan, and urge them to prosecute persons identified as responsible for crimes.
    · The High Commissioner should use the findings to determine to what extent there have been violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including grave breaches that would be subject to possible war crimes prosecutions.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan should then prosecute those commanders found responsible for the arbitrary killings before a tribunal in hearings that are fully open to the public and conducted in accordance with international standards on fair trials.

Human Rights Watch does not underestimate the difficulty of undertaking an investigation, given the logistical, security, and political difficulties involved. The area where the most recent massacre took place has changed hands several times. It has been difficult for U.N. agencies to get access to the area, and no one has been stationed there permanently because of security concerns. The sanctions threatened by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1333 (2000), including closing the Taliban offices in New York, have led to increased tension with the U.N. The U.N. should nevertheless make a credible request to investigate and be prepared for an immediate response to take advantage of any opportunities offered by changing political and military circumstances. This means having the necessary expertise and resources lined up, with fallback options for each contingency.

To the European Community

The Common Position of the Council of the European Union on Afghanistan, adopted in January 24, 2000, states that it is an objective of the European Union to "promote respect for international humanitarian law and human rights, including the rights of women and children." E.U. members should further this objective by adopting measures that include investigating human rights and humanitarian law violations in Afghanistan through coordinated initiatives by member states' embassies in neighboring countries, such as Pakistan and Tajikistan, where they can gain access to refugees.

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