Afghanistan continues to suffer from a pervasive culture of impunity and a weak rule of law. Worsening security conditions have substantially diminished the enjoyment of human rights, including the right to life and safety, freedom of movement, access to education and health, and access to livelihoods by communities in insurgencyaffected areas.
Illegal and arbitrary detention continues, and in a significant proportion of cases, pre-trial detention deadlines are breached, suspects are not given defence counsel, and ill-treatment and torture are used to force confessions. Very few people have access to redress mechanisms, especially women. There are frequent reports of arbitrary denial of justice in disputes over housing, land and property rights.
There are clear signs that freedom of expression is threatened, with continuing reports of arbitrary arrests, detention and intimidation of journalists. There has been limited progress towards the implementation of the transitional justice action plan (Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice in Afghanistan) adopted by the Government in December 2005 and due for completion by end 2008.
OHCHR continued to build the capacity of local human rights actors, including the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), to promote and protect human rights. An illustrated booklet and a poster on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in local languages were published and disseminated in the provinces. OHCHR continued to work closely with the AIHRC and the UN Country Team. OHCHR and other UN partners are also supporting the Government in fulfilling its treaty reporting obligations.
OHCHR will focus on impunity and transitional justice and on the protection of civilians,which is an acute problem given the deteriorating security situation. OHCHR will lead efforts to advocate for greater State adherence to international human rights norms and standards. This includes mainstreaming human rights into the work of the Ministry of Interior and calling upon all parties to the conflict to respect and protect the rights of civilians.
OHCHR will continue to provide technical advice and support to the Human Rights Treaty Reporting Project, based in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by donors and UNDP, and to implementation of human rights-related benchmarks of the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy. OHCHR will advocate for increased Government commitment to implementing the transitional justice action plan as part of its efforts to increase the capacity of the national human rights protection system.Working closely with the UNAMA Rule of Law Unit, OHCHR will also improve upon the Legal System Monitoring Project on reform of the justice sector, focusing particularly on women’s access to justice.
OHCHR will continue to create awareness among the Afghan people, particularly women, about their rights and how to realize those rights.Joint projects with other UN agencies will include rightsbased programming with specific focus on economic and social rights; setting up and maintaining women referral centres,which provide an alternative point of reference for women victims of violence; creating awareness about the rights of persons with disabilities; and integrating human rights into the Afghanistan National Development Strategy process.
Afghanistan will be considered under the Universal Periodic Review in 2009.