Cablegate: Kabul -- Summary of U.S. Human Rights Programs For

DE RUEHBUL #3207/01 2651229
O 221229Z SEP 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 125456

1. (U) Per Reftel, Embassy Kabul is providing a summary of
Post programs and activities to promote human rights in
This is intended for President Bush's democracy and human
roundtable to be held at the UN General Assembly on
September 25.

2. (U) Begin text:

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Summary of Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan
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Afghanistan,s human rights record remained poor due to
several factors, including a continuing deadly insurgency,
and a weak tradition of human rights reflecting both
values and three decades of war. Despite these challenges,
the country continues to make progress toward
the protection of human rights.
This progress has included the establishment of an
independent human rights commission, a ministry dedicated
to women's values and human rights offices within several
other ministries including the Ministry of Interior and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Serious human rights abuses
continued, however, including acts of terrorism by
insurgents, restrictions on rights of women, press and
religious groups, as well as situations in which local
security forces and police abused their authority. Child
labor was widespread, and there was no evidence that labor
laws were enforced. Trafficking in persons remained a

--------------------------------------------- --------
Senior USG Officials' Efforts to Promote Human Rights
--------------------------------------------- --------

The Ambassador and other U.S. officials use meetings with
Afghan officials to underscore the U.S. democracy,
human rights, and good governance message. President Bush
and the First Lady traveled to the country in March 2006
and stressed the importance of education and political
participation for women and girls. Undersecretary for
Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky visited in July 2007 to
underscore the need to provide increased opportunities for
women. Assistant Secretary for International Organizations
Kristen Silverberg visited Afghanistan to underscore USG
support for the Ministry of Women,s Affairs at a critical
time when it was under review by Parliament.

USG Support for Afghan Women

The United States has integrated women,s issues into
virtually all of its programs, aiming to increase women,s
political participation, education, economic opportunities,
and their role in civil society.
In 2007, Post successfully nominated two key contacts for
Secretary Rice's inagural International Women of Courage

The Embassy lobbied quietly with Parliament leadership to
protect the Women's Ministry from possible cuts.
Embassy officers regularly meet with Afghan women's rights
activists and female policy makers who face threats due to
their work in advancing
women's rights, and they have provided assistance in specific
The U.S. continued to provide support for
capacity building to the Ministry of Women,s Affairs and
the provincial departments of women's affairs to facilitate
the role of the ministry as an effective advocate for
women. During the year U.S. assistance ensured the
participation of girls in the World Cup Soccer Delegation
and arranged for the manager of a successful women,s
literacy program to address the Global Conference on
Literacy in New York.

Freedom of the Press

During the year the Embassy continued to meet with Afghan

KABUL 00003207 002 OF 003

government officials to promote freedom of the press. This
included quietly (and successfully) weighing in to discourage
restrictive amendments being considered by parliament to
the national Mass Media Law.
On World Press Freedom Day, the Ambassador released
a press statement underscoring the U.S. position on
freedom of the press. The USG has also
assisted with the creation of 32 independent
community-based radio networks and invested in training and
business plan development to ensure the sustainability of
independent media organizations. Afghan Journalists have
traveled to the United States for International Visitor
Leadership Programs sponsored by the U.S. Government.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Establishing Rule of Law and Fighting Corruption
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To date the USG has invested $37.5 million dollars to
promote rule of law and establish a functioning legal
system that meets international human rights standards.
This assistance included training and equipping judges,
attorneys, and administrators and building that sector,s
infrastructure. The United States trained more than 600
judges, rehabilitated 40 judicial facilities, supported the
Supreme Court in establishing its own judicial education
and training committee, and continued training for
employees in the legislative drafting unit of the Ministry
of Justice. The United States educated the public about
the role of the legal system by distributing approximately
72,000 sets of comic books on legal rights. The United
States trained olice on the protection of human rights and
community-based policing, with an emphasis on women's and
children,s rights.

Assistance to Afghan NGOs and Civil Society

The USG has provided $7 million dollars to establish and
build capacity within the constitutionally-mandated
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. USAID has
invested $15.5 million into building capacity within the
NGO sector to empower civil society to have a voice within
Afghanistan. Assistance was provided to establish a legal
and regulatory framework for NGOs in addition to a small
grants program that provides direct support to NGOs.
Assistance was also provided to the Ministry of Economy to
create and maintain a public registry of NGOs, which will
help the government ensure accountability of the sector
though robust implementation of the NGO law.

--------------------------------------------- -
Looking Ahead to the Next Democratic Elections
--------------------------------------------- -

The USG is an active partner with the Afghan government and
international community in the preparations for upcoming
Parliamentary, Provincial Council and Presidential
elections in 2009 and 2010. This includes assistance to
increase the capacity of the Independent Election
Commission and working with civil society and other
stakeholders on voter registration and education. The U.S.
provided training and assistance in the field of
information technology and supported a pilot voter registry

Promoting Religious Freedom

U.S. officials have worked with the Afghan government,
religious leaders and civil society organizations to
promote religious tolerance. Several influential clerics
and provincial religious scholars participated in an
International Visitor Leadership Program examining the role
of religious leaders in a democracy, which enabled them to
see first-hand the expression of faith in a
multi-denominational society, observe the practice of Islam
in the United States, and participate in interfaith
dialogues to strengthen mutual understanding.

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Building Capacity to Address Trafficking in Persons
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The United States consistently raised human trafficking
issues with the government and civil society. The United
States worked with Afghan officials to develop a national
anti-trafficking action plan with the government to combat
human trafficking in both the short- and long-term. Since
2004, the USG has provided over 800,000 dollars to support
completion of Afghanistan,s first ever anti-trafficking
legislation and to train officials in the Ministry of
Interior, Ministry of Justice, and Attorney General's
Office to detect trafficking and arrest and prosecute

Humanitarian Assistance to Returning Refugees

The United States was the single largest donor to the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees, repatriation program, which
assisted more than 3.6 million refugees to return to
Afghanistan since March 2002 -- 139,804 of whom returned in
2006. The United States also assisted returnees by
providing NGO grants that facilitated the provision of
shelter, water and sanitation services, education, health
care, and livelihood opportunities.

Afghan Government's Human Rights Priorities

Afghanistan,s human rights priorities include trafficking
in persons, the return of refugees, and the establishment
of rule of law. Interference with Afghan refugees in camps
in Pakistan continued to be a priority for the host
government. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
is enshrined and mandated by the 2004 Constitution, and
while there is no Human Rights Ministry, there are
Ministries for Refugees, Social Affairs, and Women,s

3. (U) Text ends.


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