Afghanistan Human Rights
Human Rights Concerns
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is home to 28.2 million people, a number which includes hundreds of thousands of refugees from various neighboring countries. The life expectancy is 42.9 years, under 5-mortality for both male and females is 223/237 per 1,000 and adult literacy is 28 per cent. Millions of people living in southern and eastern Afghanistan are terrorized by the Taleban, other insurgent groups, and local militias ostensibly allied with the government. People continue to suffer insecurity that further restricts their limited access to food, health care and schooling. While access to education has greatly improved since the years of Taleban rule and is now open to girls, many boys and girls still aren't in school. Education however continues to shine a beacon of hope for many Afghans who would like to see their country move toward a more democratic and peaceful place to live.
Since the late 1970s Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of civil war punctuated by foreign occupations in the forms of the 1979 Soviet Invasion and the October 2001 invasion by the US that helped to overthrow the Taliban government. In December, 2001 the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISFA) to help maintain security and assist the Karzai Admininstration. The country is being rebuilt slowly with support from the international community and dealing with a strong Taleban presence. President Hamid Karzai won re-election in 2009 after a much disputed and controversial election process. Karzai's main opponent decided not to participate in the run-off election. The Afghan government has been riddled by corruption and has failed to bring to protect and promote human rights. The inclusion of the warlords in this government, some of whom stand accused of horrible human rights crimes is creating wide-spread resentment among the Afghan people. The US under Pres. Obama has increased the size of its forces there by about 35,000 people, mostly to fight the insurgent Taliban in the south of the country. The news of negotiations between the Afghan government and members of the Taliban have worried many civil society groups in Afghanistan as well as many human rights organizations, esp. because they fear that bringing in so-called moderate Taliban may cause a set-back to the rights of women.
Human Rights Concerns:
In the review of 2009 by the Afghan-international Joint Co-ordination Monitoring Board (JCMB) acknowledged that progress in the area of human rights has been slow. There was and remains till this day insufficient civilian oversight of government security forces, law enforcement agencies, most notably the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's intelligence agency. Afghan people lack confidence in the formal justice institutions. Cooperation between the Ministry of Justice and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission slows down the implementation and mainstreaming of human rights. Seventeen people were executed in 2008 and at least 111 others remain on death row. Afghanistan has voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. Civilian casualties have risen since 2001 with 2008 the bloodiest year yet. Most of these deaths were at the hands of insurgents but in that same year 40 per cent of the casualties were due to operations by Afghan and international security forces. The US military has since taken serious steps to make sure civilians don't sustain collateral damage by dramatically reducing both air strikes and nighttime raids. Women increasingly have participated in politics and public life but continue to suffer from high rates of domestic violence with little recourse to legal protection. The controversy surrounding President Karzai's signing of a Shia Law restricting the rights of Shia women caused a major world-wide blow forcing president Karzai to review it. While access to education for girls and women have improved considerably since the Taliban were ousted, girls in rural areas continue to face intimidation, harassment, threats and attacks on them and their schools. Since 2002 Afghanistan has enjoyed a vibrant resurgence of press freedom but during the past three years unsettling reports have started coming in including the killing of Zakia Zaki, the female owner of a private radio station and the stabbing of another female journalist Nilofar Habibi who survived the attempt.