Human Rights in Afghanistan

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Afghanistan Pages: 16 (4911 words) Published: January 24, 2011
Human rights in Afghanistan
The situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan is a topic of some controversy and conflict. While the Taliban were well known for numerous human rights abuses, several human rights violations continue to take place in the post-Taliban government era.[citation needed]

Post Taliban
The Bonn Agreement of 2001 established the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) as a national human rights institution to protect and promote human rights and to investigate human rights abuses and war crimes. The Afghanistan Constitution of 2004 entrenched the existence of the AIHRC. While the ongoing turmoil, violence and reconstruction efforts often make it difficult to get an accurate sense of what is going on, various reports from NGOs have accused various branches of the Afghan government of engaging in human rights violations. There have also been various human rights abuses by American soldiers on Afghan civilians, most notably in the Baghram prisons where innocent civilians endured torture, humiliating conditions, and inhumane treatment. The United States was heavily criticized for lenient sentencing for the soldiers responsible.[1]

Law and order
The National Security Directorate, Afghanistan's national security agency, has been accused of running its own prisons, torturing suspects, and harassing journalists. The security forces of local militias, which also have their own prisons, have been accused of torture and arbitrary killings. Warlords in the north have used property destruction, rape, and murder to discourage displaced Pashtuns from reclaiming their homes. Child labor and human trafficking remain common outside Kabul. Civilians frequently have been killed in battles between warlord forces. Poor conditions in the overcrowded prisons have contributed to illness and death amongst prisoners; a prison rehabilitation program began in 2003. In the absence of an effective national judicial system, the right to judicial protection has been compromised as uneven local standards have prevailed in criminal trials. Fair trial principles are enshrined in the Afghan constitution and the criminal procedure but frequently violated for various reasons, including the lack of well-educated, professional staff (especially defence lawyers), lack of material resources, corruption and unlawful interference by warlords and politicians.[2]

Freedom of speech and the media
The government has limited freedom of the media by selective crackdowns that invoke Islamic law and has encouraged self-censorship. The media remain substantially government-owned. The nominally lesser restrictions of the 2004 media law have been criticized by journalists and legal experts, and harassment and threats continued after its passage, especially outside Kabul.

Religious freedom
Main article: Religious freedom in Afghanistan
No registration of religious groups is required; minority religious groups are able to practice freely but not to proselytize. Islam is the official religion, all law must be compatible with Islamic morality, and the President and Vice President must be a Muslim.

Freedom of religion in Afghanistan has changed in recent years because the current government of Afghanistan has only been in place since 2002, following a U.S.-led invasion which displaced the former Taliban government. The Constitution of Afghanistan is dated January 23, 2004, and its initial three articles mandate: 1.Afghanistan shall be an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary, and indivisible state. 2.The sacred religion of Islam shall be the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rights. 3.No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.[1] Article seven of the constitution commits the state to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other...
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