Conference on transitional justice in Afghanistan
15 May 2010, NH Conference Centre Leeuwenhorst, The Netherlands.
The fall of the Taliban regime brought about a power vacuum in Afghanistan. The international community under de leadership of the US did not have a real plan for peaceful state-building in Afghanistan. The United States and regional powers wanted to make a deal serving their own political interests. Having the de facto agreement of the Russian Federation and Iran made the USA a deal with the Northern Alliance. The Special Forces of the United States and Great Britain paved the way for the return of militant groups to power. The post Bonn Afghan government setup that included some notorious figures from different factions is an example. When asked by the Afghan journalists, the Western diplomats tried to explain the necessity of the inclusion of warlords and their gradual isolation from power in a later stage. Creation of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) was however, the only source of hope for the victims of war-crimes and crimes against humanity. The AIHRC conducted a nationwide consultation on the question of justice and past atrocities. The result of this consultation was a report that called strongly for the immediate application of transitional justice in Afghanistan.
Today, eight years after the establishment of Western-backed regime in Afghanistan, we are confronted with a bad situation. Afghanistan has seen neither security nor transitional justice. Parliament, made up largely of lawmakers from former armed groups, many accused by rights groups and ordinary Afghans of war crimes, passed with a majority vote the so-called National Stability and Reconciliation bill which was recently enacted after publication in official gazette. This law is a blanket pardon for war crimes and human rights abuses carried out before 2001. The bill is widely criticized by the human rights groups and ordinary Afghans. The families of victims say they do not respect the law because the suspects of war crimes sitting in the parliament have passed an amnesty law for themselves and their fellow suspects. The demand for justice is now stronger than the period; the amnesty law was parked by Karzai in his office. The victims know clearly that their expectation of the state to apply justice on the suspects of past war-crimes and human rights abusers are confronted with very big disappointment. The blind trust of the people to the promises of the west is also badly damaged, after the west let the situation deteriorate to this level. But, in the past three decades, the people of Afghanistan have experienced a lot of unpopular laws and short-lived decrees. Therefore they still have hope for the application of transitional justice in the future. The human rights groups can use the time being to prepare for the proper application of all components of transitional justice. The conference on 15 May in The Hague is a good moment to evaluate the past and a fresh commitment for the future of transitional justice in Afghanistan.
The theme of the conference:
The theme of the conference consists of the following subjects:
- Assessment of the current situation around transitional justice in Afghanistan and pointing out the most urgent tasks for human rights groups.
- Looking to the possible participation of Afghan diaspora in documentation of the war-crimes and human rights violations in the past three and a half decades. This can be done as voluntary assistance to AIHRC.
- Application of transitional justice is impossible without acceptable and professional judicial institutions. Can diaspora contribute in transferring know-how from EU, US and Australia to Afghanistan?
As a platform of 53 social-cultural organizations of Afghan refugees in Europe, FAROE can coordinate the European efforts with the relevant branch of AIHRC and other civil society organizations inside Afghanistan.
What we expect from this conference:
- To highlight the fact that despite the so-called amnesty law, the people of Afghanistan demand the application of transitional justice in their country.
- To provide an opportunity for diaspora human rights groups to discuss the theme of the conference with the representatives of the AIHRC, International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), Centre for International Legal Co-operation (CILC), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and come with certain recommendations.
- To provide diaspora human rights groups and activists a certain guideline for their work in the coming years.
- To influence the policy of European countries towards Afghanistan.
- To ask the member states of the European Union to pursue an active policy in defending the cause of the millions of victims of war-crimes and human rights abuses in Afghanistan and insist on the application of transitional justice.
Concept program of the conference:
15 May 2010, World Forum, The Hague.
Saturday 15 May 2010 morning program:
- 09:30 The conference hall will be open. Participants will be welcomed with tea and coffee.
- 10:00 Mrs. Wassie chairperson of FAROE welcomes the participants and invites Mr. Koen 10:05 Davidse, director of Unit Fragility and Peace-building in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, to open the conference and give information on the standpoint and efforts of the Netherlands towards transitional justice in Afghanistan. ()
- 10:25 Dr. Bashardost, member of Afghan parliament and number three among the last presidential candidates, will talk about the situation in which the so-called Amnesty law was passed on and the possibility of recalling this law by the new parliament.
- 10:45 Mrs. Alting von Geusau, Director of CILC, will elaborate on the importance of reliable judicial institutions for the application of transitional justice and the role diaspora can play in the form of transfer of know-how.
- 11:05 Mr. Nader Nadery, Senior Commissioner and head of transitional justice in AIHRC, will analyze the situation and suggest the way forward for AIHRC and the role of diaspora organizations committed to work for the application of transitional justice.
- 11:25 Mrs. Sari Kouvo, head of Afghanistan program in ICTJ will deliver an introduction to transitional justice in Afghanistan and its perspective, taking in mind the negative developments of the recent months.
- 11: 45 Thee& coffee break
- 12:00 Dr. Daoud Najafi, former Secretary of Election Commission, will hold a short speech on how to remove the reasons behind the failure of voting procedure in the Afghan elections.
- 12:10: Mr. Faquiri, head of the Human Rights Commission of FAROE, will give a short account of what has been done by diaspora human rights groups in the area of transitional justice.
- 12:30 to 13:40 Lunch break.
- 13:40 to 15:40 Three workshops on: the way forward, documentation, and institutions.
- 15:40-16:00 Thee& coffee break
- 16:00 to 17:00 Reporting workshops results, conclusions and recommendations.
- 17:00 to 18:00 Working group for amendment and approval of final declaration.
- 18:00 to 20:00 Dinner and networking
- 20:00 to 21:30 Discussion on the draft cooperation agreement among human rights groups (including diaspora) interested in transitional justice in Afghanistan to cooperate in the application of the recommendations of the conference.
- 21:30 to 23:00 Cultural events (Afghan music).
Participation in the conference: