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Afghanistan: A Human Rights Agenda For The Future

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

23 November 2001

Human rights must be at the core of any discussion on the future of Afghanistan, Amnesty International said today ahead of the Bonn meeting.

A political settlement must be based on broad consultation and participation by the widest possible cross section of Afghan society.

"At this critical moment the human rights of the Afghan people must come first. Those entrusted with leadership must be persons of integrity committed to the human rights protection of all," the organization said.

"While Amnesty International appreciates the need for national reconciliation after years of war and repression, any future political agreement must not allow for impunity for those who have abused human rights in the past. Avoiding the truth about a country's past and ignoring accountability will not achieve peace."

As a contribution to the ongoing debate on the future of Afghanistan, Amnesty International has made several recommendations in a recent report. They include the following:

-- Any political settlement should contain explicit guarantees from the parties on the immediate ending of serious abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture and arbitrary detention. Specific protection should be sought against retaliation and discrimination against ethnic and religious groups. -- Human rights monitors should be deployed throughout Afghanistan as soon as possible to assist in ensuring protection of human rights during peace-making, in the immediate post-conflict phase as well as during the phase of institutional reform. The monitors should include experts on women's rights. -- Disarmament and demining should be included as important components of a political settlement, and should be adequately resourced and supported by the international community. Foreign governments should restrict arms supplies to Afghanistan. -- Women and ethnic and religious groups must not be discriminated against in the creation of government and institutions, and their meaningful participation must be assured. -- The international community should support a vigorous program of human rights institution-building. -- An expert commission should be set up to examine and advise on how to bring perpetrators to justice and ensure that all future institutions, including the judiciary and law enforcement agencies, are established to promote and protect human rights.

The report gives a history of human rights abuses over the past 23 years until the present day, including under Northern Alliance and Taleban and provides a human rights agenda for the future. Visit Amnesty International's electronic press kit on 11 September crisis: http://web.amnesty.org/11september.htm

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