Afghanistan Analysts Network – English

Rights and Freedoms

This thematic category comprises of AAN’s reporting on human rights, including women’s rights, media freedom, rule of law, governance and democratisation.

The Other Guantanamo 4: The Final Handover of Bagram in Sight?

Kate Clark

The transfer of detainees held at Bagram airbase from US to Afghan hands is once again in full swing. Transfers had begun after the US and Afghan governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on transferring Bagram almost a year ago, but they were suspended by the US in late summer 2012, due to reluctance […]

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Torture, Illegal Armed Groups: Signs of Possible Afghan Government Action?

Kate Clark

Many were surprised by the eventual response of the Afghan government to the detailed allegations made by UNAMA in January concerning torture carried out by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). The government’s initial denials that any problem existed were predictable enough, but were followed by President Karzai ordering […]

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General Allen Leaves with an Improved Report Card on Civilian Casualties and Torture

Kate Clark

Today, 10 February 2012, the commander of ISAF and US forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, leaves after a year and a half in the job. ‘When I got here,’ he told The New York Times, ‘I measured success in how well and how often we were fighting. Today, it’s a very different environment. The […]

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Ambiguous about Torture: Zero Dark Thirty, the Movie

Kate Clark

Oscar-winning film director, Kathryn Bigelow’s new film Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the search for and eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden. The film has proved controversial – praised by some for its cool realism, it has also been castigated for inaccuracies. Above all, though, it has been accused of justifying torture. AAN […]

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UN Torture Report: still no accountability for torture

Kate Clark

UNAMA’s new report on the torture of ‘conflict related detainees’ makes bleak reading and not only because of the scale and weight of evidence against Afghan intelligence and the police. UNAMA reported that more than half of those interviewed had experienced torture or ill-treatment. They included children as young as 14. The UN also says […]

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Where Many Streets Have No Name: One for the Freedom of Speech?

Thomas Ruttig

Afghan journalists want to rename a street in central Kabul ‘Freedom of Speech Street’ to honour the many colleagues who have sacrificed their lives in this cause over the past ten years. Their initiative has met some resistance – not because of the content but because the street already bears the name of an independence […]

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Speaking Out for Justice: An Initial Victory for Women Victims of Violence

Wazhma Samandary

Recently Afghan TV channels and news agencies have reported on an increasing number of cases of violence against women around the country. Only in the two first weeks of December at least four cases of murder were discussed in the media. In reaction to the violent incidents, civil society organizations and women’s rights activists started […]

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After the Executions: What approach to the death penalty?

Thomas Ruttig

After the execution of 14 prisoners last week, Afghan civil society has rightly ridiculed the Taleban who demanded an end to executions. But it has not taken up the question of the death penalty in Afghanistan in general. Capital punishment is legal under both the Afghan penal code and sharia. Even so, the well-known problems […]

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New Commissioners for Human Rights: An End to the Standstill, or an End to Human Rights? [Amended]

Sari Kouvo

A reshuffle of the commissioners of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) seems to be moving closer. However, the criteria along which new candidates are chosen remain unclear and subject to (factional) politicking. There is a grave danger that human rights concerns will fall victim to these unrelated considerations. At least four new appointments […]

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Put Principles Back at Centre-Stage: Women’s Rights in Afghanistan

Ann Wilkens

While the international community focuses on transition and disengagement from Afghanistan, women´s rights – invoked to justify the 2001 anti-Taleban intervention and thereafter used whenever handy – have again been relegated to the back burner. The continued prioritisation of prosecuting women for ‘moral crimes’ while – despite some recent high-profile cases – under-emphasising rape cases […]

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Correcting Details: More on the NYT Reporting the Human Rights Mapping

Kate Clark

The New York Times piece ‘Top Afghans Tied to ’90s Carnage, Researchers Say’ ‘revealed’ what everyone knows and rarely says, that many of today’s senior Afghan politicians have murky pasts. Talking about the war crimes of the last thirty years has proved difficult for Afghans and the international powers alike. The decision, in 2005, to […]

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The ruined Dar-ul-Aman palace. Photo: Thomas Ruttig.

The Cloak of Silence: Afghanistan’s Human Rights Mappings

Ahmed Rashid

On 22 July, the New York Times came out with an article on human rights abuses in Afghanistan which it wrote up based on a document that has neither been published (although it is waiting for publication since many months, and Afghan groups have now demanded that it finally happens)(1) nor it apparently has been […]

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