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Dealing With Past Abuses in Afghanistan

UN Rights Chief Heads To Afghanistan To Support Moves To Deal With Past Abuses

The top United Nations human rights official is due to arrive in Afghanistan later today to offer her support to local efforts to tackle past human rights abuses during the country's many years of civil war and Taliban rule.

Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is <"http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/A3E3519489B826D5C1256F9500580437?opendocument">scheduled to launch on Saturday the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's (AIHRC) report on transitional justice, which contains recommendations on how to deal with past crimes and to end impunity for those who committed the crimes.

The report is being released after eight months of nationwide consultation by the AIHRC, which included the surveying of 4,000 people and the participation of 3,200 others in focus groups.

A spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (<"http://www.unama-afg.org/">UNAMA), Ariane Quentier, announced details of Mrs. Arbour's trip during a press briefing today in the capital Kabul. She added that the High Commissioner's arrival may be delayed by poor weather.

In another development, Jean Arnault, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for <"http://www.un.org/apps/news/infocusRel.asp?infocusID=16&Body=Afghanistan&Body1=">Afghanistan, welcomed the inauguration of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to help organize and supervise free elections.

"High participation by men and women in the first presidential election [last October] made it clear that Afghan people have embraced the principle of popular election of their leaders. The Commission will serve to make sure that this becomes a permanent feature of Afghanistan's public life," Mr. Arnault said in a statement issued by his spokesperson.

The nine-member IEC replaces an earlier interim commission and will assume sole responsibility for running elections once parliamentary polls are held later this year. Until then, the IEC's members will work with foreign representatives as part of the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB).

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