Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Head of AIHRC Needs to Tough Human Rights Violation Out

Violation of human rights and humanitarian law has been changed into a common practice in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the human rights discourse in post-Taliban Afghanistan, the rights and freedoms of Afghans are not safeguarded.
Constitutionally, both men and women should be able to exercise their rights and freedoms and the government has to protect them, but the public rights remain vulnerable. People’s fundamental rights – i.e. their rights to life, liberty, and property – are trampled upon in one way or another.
Worst of all, humanitarian law is violated flagrantly across the country as a result of war, which has been called the main challenge before human rights by the newly appointed head of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) Shaharzad Akbar. Recently, civilian casualties have increased in the wake of indiscriminate attacks by warring parties. The Taliban militants are the main violators of humanitarian law as they target non-combatants, including women and children, and torture captives in the worst possible way. Recently, a large number of civilians have been killed by roadside bombs, suicide attacks, and terrorist offensives carried out by the Taliban militant fighters in different provinces.
Shaharzad Akbar is most likely to have a hard time ahead to deal with the violation of human rights and humanitarian law and raise her voice louder in defending the rights of Afghan men, women, and children.
Akbar’s predecessor Sima Samar was appointed as head of (AIHRC) in a highly difficult time as Afghans, mainly people in tribal belts, showed strong sensitivity towards human rights and had a very negative perception of human rights discourse. A large number of Afghans believed that human rights discourse had been the product of western states and transferred to Afghanistan to target religious values and cultural norms. However, Samar fought all the challenges without fear spreading awareness about human rights and raising her concern about human rights violation. Subsequently, Afghans, mainly youths, admired her relentless efforts in this regard and called her “school-builder woman” since she had many schools built to promote education. She also supported orphans through accommodating them in orphanages and providing them food and shelter.
Akbar has also shouldered the responsibility of protecting the public rights in a very sensitive time. Her chairmanship in AIHRC comes as peace talks have entered a crucial phase and the rights and freedoms of women are one of the controversial topics at the negotiating table. The Taliban seek to restrict women’s rights and liberties stated in Afghan Constitution. They are unlikely to accept women would be actively engaged in social, political, and economic spheres as they are now. It is a known fact that the Taliban exercise parochial mindset towards women’s social and political role and show tendency to patriarchy.
With this in mind, AIHRC has to push for the protection of women’s rights and freedoms and deem it a “red line”. It should raise its voice for engaging women in peace talks and urge the Taliban’s interlocutors that peace talks will not be acceptable to Afghans if they put the rights of women at stake and undo the past achievements. AIHRC is the anchor for protecting women’s rights at the peace table.
Meanwhile, AIHRC has to condemn the violation of humanitarian law by warring parties and urge them to observe the international humanitarian law through not targeting civilians as well as public infrastructures such as schools, universities, hospitals, etc.
As the head of AIHRC, Akbar has to fasten her belt to fight all the challenges and setbacks hampering the smooth exercise of human rights and humanitarian law. She has to be brave enough to condemn violation of human rights perpetrated by anyone – be it strongmen, government officials or Taliban militants. In short, she and her team have to advocate human rights in all cases and leave no room for human rights violation with impunity.
Since lack of law enforcement paved the ground for violation of human rights, the government has to implement the law and prosecute violators of human rights regardless of their social status and political positions. Law-enforcers should treat all citizens equal and play their executive role actively and responsibly.
Afghans fell victim to unmitigated war and should not fall victim to peace or peace talks with finding their rights at stake at the peace table. Both Afghan soldiers and civilians paid great sacrifices for the protection of their rights and freedoms and support for democracy. Hence, the sacrifices must not be dealt at the table overnight. Peace talks should lead to positive changes and ensure the free exercise of human rights and freedoms in a violence-free society.