United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

16 October 1995


Fiftieth session
Agenda item  112 (c)


Situation of human rights in Afghanistan

Note by the Secretary-General

  The  Secretary-General has the  honour to  transmit to the  members of the
General Assembly a brief interim report on the situation of human rights  in
Afghanistan  prepared by  Mr. Choong-Hyun  Paik, Special  Rapporteur of  the
Commission on  Human Rights, in accordance  with Commission  on Human Rights
resolution  1995/74 of 8 March 1995 and Economic and Social Council decision
1995/285 of 25 July 1995.

95-31216 (E)   301095/...

          Interim report on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan
          submitted by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human
          Rights in accordance with Commission resolution 1995/74 and
Economic and Social Council decision 1995/285


  Paragraphs  Page

I.  INTRODUCTION ..........................................1 - 103




  A.  Kabul .............................................28 - 468

  B.  Jalalabad .........................................47 - 5011

  C.  Mazar-i-Sharif ....................................51 - 5712

V.  PAKISTAN ..............................................58 -6313

VI.  CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS .......................64 -9314

  A.  Conclusions .......................................64 - 7814

  B.  Recommendations ...................................79 - 9316

1.   A special rapporteur was  first appointed to  examine the human  rights
situation in Afghanistan in 1984 by the Chairman  of the Commission on Human
Rights, who had been  requested to do so by  the Economic and Social Council
in its resolution 1984/37  of 24 May 1984.  Since then, the mandate has been
renewed  regularly  by  resolutions  of  the  Commission,  endorsed  by  the
Economic and Social Council, in which  the Special Rapporteur was  requested
to  submit reports  to the  Commission and  to the  General Assembly.    The
former   are   contained   in   documents  E/CN.4/1985/21,   E/CN.4/1986/24,
E/CN.4/1988/25,      E/CN.4/1989/24,     E/CN.4/1990/25,     E/CN.4/1991/31,
E/CN.4/1992/33, E/CN.4/1993/42,  E/CN.4/1994/53 and  E/CN.4/1995/64 and  the
latter in the annexes to documents  A/40/843, A/41/778, A/42/667 and Corr.1,
A/43/742, A/44/669, A/45/664, A/46/606, A/47/656, A/48/584 and A/49/650.

2.  At its fifty-first session, the Commission  on Human Rights decided,  by
its  resolution 1995/74  of  8  March 1995,  to  extend the  mandate of  the
Special  Rapporteur for  one year,  an extension  which was approved  by the
Economic and Social Council in its decision 1995/285 of 25 July 1995.

3.   At its forty-ninth  session, after considering the  report submitted to
it by  the  Special Rapporteur,  the  General  Assembly, by  its  resolution
49/207 of  23  December 1994,  decided to  keep under  consideration at  its
fiftieth session the situation  of human rights in Afghanistan, in the light
of additional  elements provided by the  Commission on Human  Rights and the
Economic and Social Council.

4.   Subsequent  to the renewal of  the mandate  by the Commission on  Human
Rights  at its fifty-first  session, and  in accordance  with past practice,
the newly appointed Special Rapporteur  briefly visited the area in order to
obtain a  preliminary impression.   He  visited Pakistan  on 25,  30 and  31
August 1995 and Afghanistan from 25 to 29 August 1995.

5.   The Special Rapporteur has  the honour to  submit his interim report to

the  General  Assembly,  which  was  finalized  on  30  September  1995,  in
compliance with Commission  on Human  Rights resolution 1995/74 and  General
Assembly resolution 49/207.

6.    The new  Special  Rapporteur  on  the situation  of  human  rights  in
Afghanistan, Mr. Choong-Hyun Paik, was appointed  in April 1995.   Following
a visit  to Geneva  in May  1995 to  attend the  annual  meeting of  special
rapporteurs,  he  proceeded  to  acquaint  himself  with  the  situation  in
Afghanistan and  his first mission to Afghanistan  was a brief  one.  He had
envisaged that he would  visit most parts of Afghanistan on this visit, i.e.
the region  administered by  President Burhanuddin  Rabbani including  Kabul
city  and Herat.  He also expected to visit  Mazar-i-Sharif, the area in the
northern region controlled by General Dostum,  and Kandahar in the  southern
region,  controlled  by  the  Taliban  militia.  However,  the  outbreak  of
hostilities reportedly  initiated by  the Taliban prevented visits  to Herat
and Kandahar.   During  the period  when the  Special Rapporteur was  in the
neighbouring  region, he received  reports of  bombardments and  fighting in
the southern and western parts of Afghanistan.
  7.  Although visits to Kabul, Jalalabad  and Mazar-i-Sharif took place  as
scheduled,  in view of the  foregoing, the Special Rapporteur  was unable to
acquaint himself with  the situation as it  exists in the south-western  and
some central parts of  Afghanistan, and envisages  remedying this  situation
during the course of the next mission which he hopes to undertake,  assuming
that the prevailing security situation would permit such a mission.

8.   The Special Rapporteur  wishes to express  his sincere appreciation  to
the  Governments  of  Afghanistan and  Pakistan  for  extending  their  full
cooperation during the  course of the mission.  He also wishes  to thank the
provincial  authorities in  Jalalabad and  Mazar-i-Sharif for  the  valuable
assistance accorded to him when he visited those areas.

9.   The Special  Rapporteur wishes to  thank the Office  of the  Secretary-
General in  Afghanistan and Pakistan (OSGAP)  and the  United Nations Office
for the  Coordination  of  Humanitarian  Assistance (UNOCHA)  for  the  most
efficient logistical support, especially as plans  had to be changed at very
short notice after news of renewed fighting was received.

10.    The  Special Rapporteur  also  wishes  to thank  the  United  Nations
Development  Programme (UNDP)  and the  Office  of  the United  Nations High
Commissioner  for Refugees  (UNHCR)  for  the  kind  assistance  which  they
extended to him in the field.


11.  The mediation efforts by the United  Nations to assist in arriving at a
peace  accord were once  again resumed  on behalf  of the Secretary-General.
The head  of the United Nations  Special Mission  to Afghanistan, Ambassador
Mahmoud  Mestiri, held  further  meetings with  President  Rabbani  in early
January.   Discussions  continued  and  meetings were  held  with  prominent
Afghan  leaders in order to find a negotiated solution  to the crisis in the
country.  Amongst those  with whom the  Special Mission held talks were  the
British Foreign Secretary,  Mr. Douglas Hurd,  General Dostum,  the Governor
of Herat  province, Mr.  Ismail Khan,  and representatives  of the  Taliban.
The Special  Mission  continued to  hold  talks  with prominent  Afghans  in
Peshawar,  Pakistan.  As  a result  of intensive consultations  on the peace
efforts   with  all   political  parties   and  discussions   with   foreign
representatives,  it was  announced by  the  Special  Mission that  under an
agreement  with all  parties involved,  a  broadly  based mechanism  for the
transfer  of  power was  expected to  be convened  before 20  February 1995.
This was to  be followed by the  establishment of a country-wide cease-fire.
The Special Mission continued its  efforts in Kabul to  negotiate a peaceful
transfer  of power  with the  different  political parties  in  Afghanistan,
including  the Taliban.   Discussion  continued during  March 1995.    On 20
March, Professor Abdul Sattar Sirat, together  with Mr. Sultan Mohamed Ghazi
and  Mr.  Abdul  Ahmad  Karzai, on  behalf  of  the United  Nations  Special

Mission,  reiterated the  previous announcement  made  on  12 March  1993 in
Kabul.   The  announcement outlined  the conclusions  and agreements reached
and included the following:

   (a)  A committee consisting of  experienced Afghan military officers  and
commanders  had  been  established  with  the responsibility  of  forming  a
national security force;

  (b)  Agreement was also reached with  regard to the formation of a council
or  mechanism   at  the   national  level   which  would   consist  of   two
representatives from  each province of  Afghanistan.  In addition,  15 to 20
independent personalities from  inside and  outside Afghanistan  were to  be
nominated to this committee by the  United Nations, in consultation with the
concerned parties.  The  following procedure  was  to  be adopted  for  that
purpose:  each province was required to form  a council composed of  ulemas,
tribal   leaders,   former  mujahideen   and   experienced   political   and
administrative personalities  who were  residents of  that  province.   This
council would have the responsibility to  choose the two representatives for
the  national  council  or  mechanism.    They  were  required  to  meet the
following criteria:   the individuals  were to  be Afghan  Muslims who  were
residents of  the province  over the age  of 25 years  and have no  criminal
record.  The provincial  representatives  elected in  this  manner  would be
presented  to the  United Nations  Special  Mission  and its  Afghan Working
Group  either   directly  or   through  the   United  Nations  officers   in

12.   On 29  June 1995, Sardar Abdul  Wali Khan, the Special  Envoy of Zahir
Shah,  the former King  of Afghanistan,  held discussions  in Islamabad with
Afghan personalities including representatives of various Afghan tribes  and
representatives of the  Government of  Pakistan.   It was  reported that  he
considered that a  Loya Jirga (Grand  Assembly) would be  the only  solution
for Afghanistan  and that the  former King  would agree to play  his part in
bringing peace to the country.

13.   On  18 July  1995, the  head  of the  United Nations  Special Mission,
Ambassador  Mestiri,  arrived in  Islamabad  to  resume  his  efforts for  a
peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.  He  travelled first to Jalalabad  where
he  had  consultations with  Governor Haji  Abdul Qadir  and members  of the
Supreme Coordination  Council.   From there,  he proceeded  to Kabul  where,
during  a  threeday  stay,  he  held  discussions  with  President  Rabbani,
Commander  Ahmad  Shah Masood  and  other  Afghan  personalities.   He  then
proceeded to  Kandahar where he met with the Taliban  shura (local council).
He also travelled to Herat to hold talks  with Governor Ismail Khan and then
on  to Mazar-i-Sharif  for discussions  with  General  Dostum.   Finally, he
returned to Parachinar, a  town on the border  with the North  West Frontier
Province of Pakistan, for a meeting  with Mr. Gulbudin Hekmatyar,  leader of
Hezb-i-Islami of Afghanistan.  He concluded  his visit with discussions with
the Prime  Minister of Pakistan, Ms. Benazir  Bhutto.  Then  he met with the
Secretary-General of the Organization  of the Islamic  Conference (OIC)  for
further consultations.   Ambassador Mestiri was  encouraged by the  positive
and useful  discussions which he  held with  the various Afghan  leaders and
the overwhelming desire for peace among the Afghan people.

14.   Parallel  to these  initiatives, intermittent  factional fighting  has
continued.   However, the factional fighting  seems to  be concentrated only
in certain  areas bordering territories under  the control  of the different
commanders,  including  the area  controlled  by  the authorities  in Kabul.
According  to   information  received,   especially  from   non-governmental
organizations  (NGOs) active  in the  rural  areas,  most of  Afghanistan is

15.   Apart  from  the  previous initiatives  taken  by the  Office  of  the
SecretaryGeneral in engaging  rival parties in negotiations and dialogue  at
the  national level,  the  head of  the Special  Mission  resumed  his peace
efforts on 14  September through visits  to Kabul, Jalalabad, Mazar-i-Sherif
and Kandahar.

16.   Emergency humanitarian aid provided  by various  United Nations bodies
and NGOs continues.


17.   Afghanistan  has  been  confronted  with  a situation  of  strife  and
conflict for  more than 16 years.   Since the conflict began, nearly half of
the population  of the country  have left their  homes in  search of safety,
either  crossing  the border  into  neighbouring  Pakistan and  the  Islamic
Republic of Iran or  moving to another part of Afghanistan.  It is estimated
that  more than  1  million  people were  killed in  Afghanistan  before the
withdrawal of  Soviet troops  and the  change of  Government in  April 1992.
More than  25,000 persons are believed  to have been  killed in Kabul  since
April  1992  as a  result  of  civil war  between  mujahideen  armed  groups
affiliated with different political parties and factions.

18.   Although  a major  part of  Afghanistan  is peaceful  and there  is  a
relative  stability in the  country not witnessed  for many  years, the more
than  16 million people of  Afghanistan are struggling to  survive.  Efforts
by  United Nations bodies  and NGOs  are directed  towards strengthening the
peace  process and  stability by  providing  an  alternative to  conflict by
implementing plans and  incentives for rehabilitation and reconstruction  at
the district level without waiting for a permanent solution.

19.   It  is undoubtedly a daunting  task because the situation  in terms of
the needs  of the  country is  grave.   According to  the Human  Development
Index, Afghanistan is the third poorest country in the world.   Only a small
minority of Afghans have access  to safe water, sanitation,  health care and
education.  More than one third of Afghan  babies do not survive beyond  the
age of five.  Afghanistan has the  second highest infant  mortality rate  in
the world at 164 per 1,000 live births.

20.    The  activities  of  UNDP   are  central  to  funding,   coordinating
rehabilitation   and  development.     The   "Action  Plan   for   Immediate
Rehabilitation"  of  October  1993 was  a  result  of  the  joint  effort of
representatives  of  Government,   United  Nations  agencies  and  the   NGO
community.   It is  considered to be the  only comprehensive, jointly agreed
statement of  country-wide and sector-wide  rehabilitation priorities.   The
five main  programmes currently  being  funded  by UNDP  are in  respect  of
animal health, rehabilitation of the disabled, rehabilitation of  irrigation
and  flood control  structures,  urban rehabilitation  programmes  and  crop
production and improvement programmes.

21.  Humanitarian aid  to Afghanistan is  coordinated by the United  Nations
Office  for  the Coordination  of  Humanitarian  Assistance  to  Afghanistan
(UNOCHA) and  includes  assistance  for  voluntary  repatriation,  emergency
provision of  shelter, water supply, food  aid, sanitation,  health care and
mine  clearance.   Afghanistan  is the  most  densely mined  country in  the
world.  It is estimated  that the country has 10  per cent of  the estimated
100 million  mines laid in 64  countries of the  world.   The mine clearance
programme  is  therefore  of  the  utmost  significance  for  the  people of
Afghanistan.  In  the latest consolidated  interagency appeal  for emergency
humanitarian  assistance  for Afghanistan,  UNOCHA  estimates  that  at  the
planned implementation  rate, it will  take another four years  to clear the
remaining  priority areas  in Afghanistan.    Over  10 square  kilometres of
priority  areas  in 16  provinces  were  cleared  in  the previous  sixmonth
period.   Since  the  beginning  of  the  programme  in  1989,  45.1  square
kilometres  have been  cleared  and more  than  9 square  kilometres  in  13
provinces were  surveyed.   Mine clearance  training was  provided to  1,457

22.   Voluntary  repatriation,  with  the assistance  of  UNHCR,  continues,
especially  to the areas  which are not  affected by the  civil war.   It is
estimated  by the  Tripartite Repatriation  Commissions (TRC)  that  500,000
persons from  the Islamic Republic  of Iran and 200,000  from Pakistan would

be returning to Afghanistan during the course of this year.

23.  The  World Food Programme (WFP) has  provided food aid and an estimated
2  million  people  in Afghanistan  have  benefited  under  various projects
including food-for-work activities.   During 1995, the care and  maintenance
programme will be  phased out from  refugee camps  in Pakistan  in order  to
meet the increased needs for emergency assistance within Afghanistan.

24.  Safe  drinking water is available to less  than one family in eight  in
the  major  cities.   The  majority  of  the  Afghan  population  relies  on
traditional systems  of water and sanitation and is therefore open to health
risks from  shallow water  contaminated by  accumulated waste.   The  United
Nations  Children's Fund (UNICEF)  and the  United Nations  Centre for Human
Settlements  (Habitat) plan  to continue  with their  programme designed  to
improve  the  water  supply through  installation of  handpumps  on communal
wells  and chlorination  of shallow  wells.  An  improvement in  this regard
would have a  direct result on the infant  mortality rate since  42 per cent
of  all  deaths  of  children   under  five  are  caused  by  diarrhoea  and

25.   Most of  the 70,000 wounded  who were treated  in hospitals in  Kabul,
Jalalabad and  Mazar-i-Sharif in  1994 were women  and children.   The World
Health  Organization  (WHO)  together  with  UNICEF  carried  out  intensive
vaccination  and  other  programmes  to  deal  with  malnutrition,  provided
medical  supplies and set  up clinics  as well  as educational  and training
programmes for women.

26.   The total  cost of  the emergency  humanitarian aid programmes  of the
United  Nations described above was  US$ 122 million  for the period October
1994 to September 1995.  As of 30  September US$ 94 million were  available,
leaving a shortfall of US$ 28 million.

27.    The programmes  of  humanitarian  assistance  of  the United  Nations
continue, together  with those  of a  large number  of NGOs  active in  such
sectors  as  animal  husbandry,  education,  health  care  and   sanitation.
Activities  are carried  out in  both urban  and  rural  areas and  in areas
subject  to factional  warfare,  as well  as  in strife-free  areas  of  the


A.  Kabul

28.   The Special  Rapporteur was  received by the  Deputy Foreign Minister,
Mr.  Ghafoorzai, and  a  very  useful exchange  of views  took place.   Many
issues were raised and discussed.  As a result, a list of  some 300 recently
released  prisoners  of war  was  given  to the  Special  Rapporteur.    The
released  prisoners included 23 foreigners, 32 members  of Hezb-i-Islami, 21
members of Wahdat, 94 supporters of General Dostum and 145 Taliban members.

29.  Mr. Ghafoorzai  expressed a strong  commitment to all the human  rights
conventions  to  which  Afghanistan  is  a  party  and  invited  the Special
Rapporteur to feel free to travel everywhere and  meet with anyone he wished
to see.  He  stated that the authorities  in Kabul attached great importance
to the work and views of the United  Nations Commission on Human Rights  and
said that it  was their goal to strive  for improvement of the situation  in
Afghanistan.   However,  16 years  of war  had  complicated  the process  of
improvement.   He  urged the  Special  Rapporteur  to investigate  the  root
causes of the violations of human rights which  took place while keeping  in
mind  that  there  existed  nine  different  factions  in  the  country with
conflicting  viewpoints.    In  order  for   his  Government  to   cooperate
meaningfully  it  was  necessary  for  the  situation,  beginning  with  the
political situation, to improve.  The will of the  people was supreme and he
hoped that a Loya Jirga (Grand National Assembly) would be installed  within
a year and that a constitution  would be adopted by the  people. He appealed

for  United Nations mediation  in establishing  a mechanism  in pursuance of
the will of the people.  Referring to the situation of women in the  Islamic
tradition,  the  Deputy Minister  stated  that  traditionally, the  veil was
accepted.  However,  he pointed out that  there were 283 high-ranking  women
officers  in  the  army and  18  women  diplomats in  the  foreign  service;
furthermore, there were  2 female helicopter pilots.  Referring to rights of
minorities, he said that  there had been  a clear improvement and that  many
of  those who  had  fled  were returning  and  were able  to  reclaim  their
confiscated properties.

30.   The Special Rapporteur stated  that Afghanistan  occupied an important
place  in the Central  Asian region.   However,  any political disagreements
could only  be settled internally by  the people  of Afghanistan themselves.
The  Special Rapporteur was concerned only with the  situation of the people
of Afghanistan. Any violation of their human rights  was of concern to  him.
He  realized that  the  violations  of the  human  rights of  the people  of
Afghanistan were  caused by  extraneous factors.    However, bombardment  of
civilians could  never be acceptable or  justified under any  circumstances,
no matter who the  perpetrator was.  The Deputy Minister reiterated that the
reconstruction of Afghanistan would be a great struggle.

31.  The Special  Rapporteur noted that women  and children were the primary
victims in  war situations  and expressed  the hope  that the  international
community  would  assist the  people  of  Afghanistan  in  their efforts  to
rebuild the country.

32.   The Special  Rapporteur had  meetings with  Lt. Gen.  Suhila and  Col.
Razia at the military  hospital in Kabul.   During the discussions, Lt. Gen.
Suhila said she had never encountered any difficulties in the course of  her
work and that  she had over 1,000 men working  under her.  She informed  the
Special Rapporteur that there  were 90 women working  at the hospital out of
a  workforce of  about 400 persons.   Many  of the  women were  deans in the
various faculties  at the University of  Kabul.  Fifteen women had graduated
this year from the  medical faculty attached to the military hospital and at
least  half of  the  students  were  women.    The interruption  in  women's
education  was caused  by the  heavy  rocketing  and bombardments  of Kabul,
causing all schools and  universities to close. However,  as a result of the
peace  and  the  calm which  had  prevailed  during the  year,  schools  and
universities had reopened.   There were separate  schools for boys and girls
but there  was co-education  at the  university level.   Women were  able to
take up jobs  again and kindergartens had reopened  in Kabul.  The  military
hospital  had a kindergarten for  all employees providing care  and food for
the children of all the staff free of charge.

33.   She  also  described  facilities for  training nurses  at  the Special
Nursing Institute attached to the hospital,  which was a teaching  hospital.
She  stressed the  importance of  ending the  war and  said that  the  first
priority was peace, without which no progress could be achieved.

34.  The  Special Rapporteur held meetings with  members of the Ministry  of
Justice and  other legal departments who explained the various policy-making
and  other  legal structures.    In  addition,  the  Special Rapporteur  was
informed about  the various schemes and  methods which were  set up to  deal
with the property rights of the returning refugees and the legal  incentives
to encourage refugees to return, including  tax reductions and other efforts
to assist those who  had businesses abroad.  A special decree regulated  the
recovery of properties of returning refugees.

35.  Meetings  were later held with  officials dealing with repatriation  in
the  Ministry of  Repatriation.  They  explained their role  and how efforts
were  coordinated  in  dealing   with  refugee  problems   through  the  two
Tripartite  Commissions established with  the Islamic  Republic of  Iran and
Pakistan.  The Commissions  met on a rotating  basis in the  three countries
and the last meeting was  held in July 1995 in  Pakistan.  The  next meeting
was scheduled to  take place in the Islamic  Republic of Iran in  September.
The Special Rapporteur was informed  about difficulties faced  regarding the

repatriation of refugees from the Islamic Republic.

36.    He  also exchanged  views  and  held  discussions  with  the Attorney
General,  Mr.  Mohamed  Quasem,  and  five  other  officials.    The Special
Rapporteur was informed that Afghanistan was  an Islamic State and regulated
by the Islamic Shari'a.  The following issues  were discussed:  the question
of applicability  of laws in different  circumstances; the  court and appeal
systems  and the international  treaties which  are binding  on Afghanistan;
the question  of  the legal  rights  of  refugees regarding  properties  and
businesses owned  in the host country  before return;  and better protection
of women  and children.   When the  Special Rapporteur raised  the issue  of
possible complaints regarding lack  of due process  of law, he was  informed
that a provision existed  under the law which  would "restore the dignity of
wrongfully tried or convicted persons".

37.    During  a meeting  with  the  First Vice-President  of  the  National
Security Department,  Mr. Ali  First, the  Special  Rapporteur was  informed
that violations of human  rights in the form  of abductions and  torture did
occur  but they  often took  place  in areas  which were  not yet  under the
control of  the authorities  in Kabul.   Steps  were being  taken to  afford
better  protection  against  violations  of   human  rights.    The  Special
Rapporteur   was  informed   that   efforts  by   organizations   like   the
International Committee  of the Red Cross,  Amnesty International and  other
NGOs received  full support.   The  questions  of drug  trafficking and  the
growing of opium were  discussed and it  was stated that the authorities  in
Kabul  were  committed  to  a  complete  halt  to  and  prevention  of   the
cultivation of opium.

38.    The  question  of  the  preservation  of  the  cultural  heritage  of
Afghanistan was  also dealt  with.   There was  an urgent  need to  renovate
damaged  works of  arts  and  facades and  to  secure the  return of  looted
articles from those who  had obtained, through illegal means, what could  be
regarded as parts of the national heritage.

39.   In a meeting  with the  President of  the Supreme Court,  Acting Chief
Justice Murad, the system  of civil and criminal  actions was discussed.   A
legal aid  system and the  legal representation of  children were among  the
topics discussed.

40.   In further discussions regarding  protection of  rights, the officials
from  the  President's office  gave  a  detailed  account  of the  different
departments which dealt  with questions concerning nationality, drafting  of
decrees and  laws,  complaints from  aggrieved  parties  and appeals.    The
Special Rapporteur was informed that special  attention was given to respect
for human rights, notably  freedom of expression:  no censorship was imposed
or permitted.  The  property rights of refugees  were protected by a special
decree  supported  by  President  Rabbani.    Properties  confiscated  under
previous regimes had been  returned to the owners and restitution was  given
for  violations  of  rights  from  which   40,000  to  50,000  families  had
benefited.    A  special  commission was  set  up to  estimate  the damages.
However,  due to  a  shortage of  funds only  US$  100  per family  could be
awarded to the families who were in greatest need.

41.  The  Special Rapporteur then  met with  returnee families.   Among  the
interviewed  were  families who  had  left  Afghanistan, families  who  were
internally displaced  and those  who  had previously  lived in  a suburb  of
Kabul which  was destroyed by bombs  and rockets.     All those  interviewed
had  suffered immensely  from the  death  and  abduction of  family members,
separation from  and loss  of contact with  family members  and a  desperate
financial  situation which made dayto-day living precarious.  In one case, a
sick child could not be taken to the  doctor as the mother had no  money.  A
visit to one three-room  apartment revealed that it was being used to  house
four families, each consisting of between six and  nine people.  The  modest
rent  collected was  set  aside  for payment  to the  owner on  his eventual
return, and  leases were  of very  short term  so that  the returning  owner
would not have to wait for too long to gain vacant possession.

 42.    The Special  Rapporteur  witnessed  the  extent  of destruction  and
devastation  to which  Kabul was  subjected.   In many  cases, there  is  no
possibility of restoring  the damaged  structures, the  only solution  being
that of building ab initio.

43.    According  to  information received,  there  was a  steady  stream of
returnees to Kabul.   New businesses were reopening  every week and life was
beginning to  return to normal.     The Special Rapporteur had meetings with
several families  who had returned recently  and restored  their homes which
had been  damaged during  the wars.   Schools  were seen  to be  functioning
again and returning schoolchildren included girls.

44.   The  Special  Rapporteur  had the  opportunity  to  meet with  a  mine
clearance team who  gave a detailed account of  their activities.  He  noted
that  the training given  before undertaking  this difficult  task was never
total protection against the  dangers attached to such work; a member of the
team had sustained  severe facial injuries that morning and was evacuated to
the ICRC hospital for treatment.

45.  The Special  Rapporteur was briefed by a large and distinguished  group
of lawyers who belonged to the Lawyers Association of Afghanistan.

46.   At a meeting with  Mr. Peter Stocker of  ICRC, the Special  Rapporteur
was able to gain an insight  into the enormously important humanitarian work
undertaken by  the organization.  The  Special Rapporteur  was informed that
ICRC worked in an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence.

B.  Jalalabad

47.  Dr. Amin-ul-Haq  gave the Special Rapporteur  a detailed account of how
the shura operated in  an atmosphere of peace, with representation from  all
the political  parties.   It was created  soon after the  Islamic Revolution
took place.  He stated that there were  four high schools for girls and that
the  university had  about 200  female  students  at the  medical institute;
there were  also women doctors  in the hospitals  of Jalalabad.   There were
between  300,000 and  400,000 internally  displaced persons in  Jalalabad in
five camps.

48.   The  Special Rapporteur  exchanged views  with the  Deputy Governor of
Nangarhar, Dr.  Mohamed Asif,  the Chancellor of  Jalalabad University,  Dr.
Faizal Ahmed Ibrahimi and the President  of Information and Culture, Maulawi
Abdul Rashid.  During the course of this  meeting, there was an exchange  of
views  and  the  Special Rapporteur  was  given a  detailed  picture of  the
situation of women.   He was informed that about 20 per cent of the students
in  the Faculties of  Agriculture and  Engineering and half of  those in the
Faculty of  Medicine were women,  because they were  given equal  access and
opportunities  in education.   There was  relative stability  in the country
but in  the absence  of a  central authority,  many difficulties  persisted.
During the course of the previous three and a half years the  administration
in  the region  had been  independent.   The repatriation  of the internally
displaced persons  would be  greatly  accelerated and  facilitated once  the
situation  in  the  country  became  stable.    He  attributed  the peaceful
conditions in Jalalabad to  the fact that there  was a shura  on which  were
represented  members  of  all  nine  political  parties.    The  shura  took
decisions on  behalf of  the  people and  strived for  peace and  neutrality
without backing any particular political party.

49.   The  Special  Rapporteur  had an  opportunity  to visit  a  prison  in
Jalalabad and had a  meeting with the superintendent  of the prison.   There
were no political prisoners  present.  There  was, however, a young boy  who
was obliged  to stay  with his  father, who had  been tried  for murder  and
awaited sentencing,  because there  was no  one to  take care  of him.   The
prison  conditions were difficult, especially  as no food was  given to them
(it was the responsibility  of the relatives of the prisoners to bring  food
once a week; those  who had no  relatives had to petition the shura  or rely

on other  inmates).   Prisoners  lived in  collective cells  and were  given
instruction  in Islamic  prayers.   There  was  a great  need for  financial
support  and a strong  plea was  made by  the superintendent  to facilitate,
among  other things, vocational  training programmes  for the  prisoners.  A
small number of beds had recently been provided by ICRC.

50.   A visit  was made  to a  displaced persons  camp on  the outskirts  of
Jalalabad.  The inhabitants of  the camp  complained about  the reduction in
their rations and  the imminent stoppage  of all  food rations.   They  were
reluctant to  go back to  Kabul.  They  expressed a desire  to remain  where
they were if they could obtain permanent employment.

C.  Mazar-i-Sharif

51.     During  his  visit  to  Mazar-i-Sharif,  in  the  northern  part  of
Afghanistan,  which  is  under  the  control  of  General  Dostum,  a  large
gathering of  lawyers, judges  and other  officials of  the judicial  system
were present.  Among them  were three women judges.  How the judicial system
and the  administration of justice functioned  in the  region was discussed.
These were based  on Shari'a as well  as international standards and  norms.
Legal aid was available for the defence  of those unable to retain  a lawyer
but no such case had yet arisen.  Only prisoners who had committed  criminal
offences were in  custody.  Prisoners  of war  were usually  not tried,  but
detained for  a future exchange.   Four cases  of criminals  apprehended for
trafficking in  narcotics  were  being  investigated.    The  production  of
narcotics was  prohibited in the  area and no  cases of  trafficking in arms
were reported.

52.  The Special Rapporteur also met with  the commander and other officials
of the  police  garrison  of Balkh  province.    He  held  discussions  with
officials of  the National  Security Department of  the Northern  Provinces.
The question of trafficking in drugs and the methods used  to reduce it were
discussed.   It was pointed out that a lot of drugs could be produced from a
small plot of land. Eighty kilograms of confiscated drugs were shown to  the
Special Rapporteur at the end of the meeting.

53.    The situation  of  persons  in  camps was  discussed.    The  Special
Rapporteur  was  informed  that  20  prisoners  of  war  had  recently  been
exchanged.   Forty prisoners of  war were  left in Mazar-i-Sharif  and about
250 in other areas.

 54.   According  to information  received  from  the President  of  Refugee
Affairs of  the Northern Provinces, Mr.  Abdul Aziz Jalah, and the President
of  the Department of  Education of  the Northern  Provinces, Haji Faizullah
Ansari, there  were three  refugee camps  in the  area.   One housed  Tadjik
refugees,  another housed  displaced persons  from  Kabul  and the  last one
contained repatriates  from the  Islamic Republic of  Iran.   It was  stated
that refugees from the Islamic Republic were forcibly repatriated.

55.  The refugees had been returning in a steady stream.   There was a great
need for assistance to  the returnees who lacked a  place to stay.  They did
not have access  to clean water  and no  means to sustain themselves.   They
were  often reduced  to  selling some  of  their meagre  belongings.    Five
members of the committee  of displaced persons from  Kabul were able to meet
the Special Rapporteur.

56.  Only two primary  schools were available to the  refugees in this area.
The teachers  were refugees  themselves and worked  under the  food-for-work
schemes  recently introduced.  The only help the authorities of the northern
provinces could give was in respect of curriculum and syllabus guidance.

57.   A  very  useful  meeting was  also  held with  NGOs  and human  rights
organizations active  in the area.  Their major concern  was working towards
a cease-fire and peace in the country.  Although discussions centred  around
the  question  of  human rights  no specific  cases  of violations  of human

rights were raised.


58.    The Special  Rapporteur  had  discussions  in  Islamabad with  Sardar
Khalid, Secretary of the  Ministry of States and Frontier Regions as well as
with the Commissioner of Refugees in Peshawar.

59.    Information  was  also  received  from a  group  of  Afghan  women in
Islamabad. Violence  against women, the status  of women and the question of
educational facilities available to women weresome of the topics discussed.

60.   At the end of  his visit the  Special Rapporteur visited Kacha Garghi,
the oldest refugee camp,  in Peshawar.  He  met elders and  chiefs from  the
camp.    The Special  Rapporteur also  exchanged views  on the  situation in
Afghanistan as well as on the ongoing peace  process with the members of the
Council for Understanding and National Unity of Afghanistan.

61.   The Special  Rapporteur had  an opportunity  to visit  the Mother  and
Child Clinic run by Mrs. Fatana Gailani and her staff, who were all women.

62.  The Special Rapporteur was able to get a perspective on the work  being
done by a large spectrum of NGOs under the umbrella organization ACBAR.

63.   A meeting with Afghan intellectuals was of great value for the Special
Rapporteur.   They described  many violations  and killings  which had taken
place in  previous years.   They  also expressed  their great desire  to see
peace restored to Afghanistan.


            A.  Conclusions

64.   During his  brief  visit to  some  limited  areas of  Afghanistan  and
Pakistan,  the Special  Rapporteur held  meetings and interviews  with about
100  people ranging  from political  leaders and  prominent intellectuals to
ordinary families  who were staying in  refugee centres  including those who
had returned  from  the refugee  camps  administered  by the  Government  of
Pakistan.  Based on the facts gathered  and perceptions gained through  such
activities,  the  Special  Rapporteur  has  been  able  to  draw  an interim
conclusion on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan.

65.    The  Special  Rapporteur  wishes  to take  note  of  the overwhelming
aspiration for  peace that  is commonly  held  among the  Afghan people  and
fully agrees  with them and  the political leaders  that peace  is essential
for any plan of rehabilitation of Afghan society.

66.   Despite sporadic  disturbances, peace  is gradually  gaining ground in
Kabul and other areas controlled by local authorities.   In the Kabul  area,
some people were seen  to have rebuilt their houses  as part of an effort to
reconstruct their war-torn society.  The  Special Rapporteur witnessed  that
the educational institutions have resumed their activities and students  are
returning to schools.

67.  The Special Rapporteur wishes  to record his particular appreciation of
the  activities of  the United  Nations  bodies,  e.g. UNDP,  UNHCR, UNICEF,
UNOCHA, WFP,  WHO, and  the various  other organizations  like ICRC,  OXFAM,
CARE  and   ACBAR  which   are  directed   towards  reinforcing   indigenous
initiatives to achieve stability and improvement  in living conditions.   By
providing the  means and incentives for  rehabilitation at  the local level,
these  efforts  contribute to  forming  social  infrastructures  that  would
facilitate the building of eventual peace.

68.   In the meantime,  human suffering of considerable  gravity persists in

the form of murder, disappearances and  infliction of conditions that  cause
physical  destruction, thus  depriving people  of fundamental  human  rights
such  as the right to life, the right to be free  from torture and the right
to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

69.  The  presence of widely scattered land mines, especially in residential
areas, poses  an imminent  and grave  danger to  the right  to  life.   Some
returnees  had been forced to go back to the refugee  camps owing to fear of
land  mines. International  humanitarian  rescue organizations  have  poured
funds  into medical  treatment and rehabilitation therapy  for those injured
and disabled by land mines.

70.    Violations  of  the  rules  of  war  and  disregard of  international
humanitarian norms including  acts of cruelty perpetrated against  civilians
are  a serious obstacle to the guarantee of the right  to life and the right
to be free from inhuman treatment.

71.    The  lack  of  a  central  Government  poses extreme  difficulty  and
complexity in  redressing human rights violations  as required  by the rules
of international law.

72.     The  collapse   of  an   impartial  judicial   system  prevents  the
administration of justice,  posing an insurmountable challenge to the  right
of  the  Afghan  people  to  a  fair  trial  and  affecting, in  particular,
detainees in prisons.

73.   The  administration of  justice remains largely  at the  discretion of
local  authorities  through a  system  of  indigenous regulation  which  has
religious overtones.  Private vengeance  at the level of families and tribes
is not  rare and  the  situation has  been  exacerbated  by the  long  armed
conflict.  It was brought to the knowledge of the Special Rapporteur that  a
convict from  one of the camps  for internally displaced  persons was to  be
executed unless his brother, who committed manslaughter, could be captured.

74.   Death  sentences  continue to  be pronounced  and  a case  of  capital
punishment  was  reported  where  the  convict  was  publicly  executed   in
accordance   with  Shari'a.  The  conditions  to  which  prisoners  and  the
convicted were subjected were also grave.

75.  With regard to the  rights of women, the Special Rapporteur witnessed a
high level of  female involvement, especially in  the areas of  medical care
and education.   However, despite  the active  involvement of  women in  the
affairs of  administration, partly resulting  from wartime necessities,  the
development  of the  situation as  a whole  does not  seem to  have  greatly
changed the  pattern of deeply ingrained  male domination  of the indigenous
societal system.   Reportedly, in December  1994, the  provincial council of
Jalalabad  prohibited women from working in offices except  in the fields of
health and education.

76.   In a  situation in  which there  is deprivation  of fundamental  human
rights, there is an  urgent need to ensure  the basic requirements  of human
existence.  The result of  the armed  conflict that has lasted  more than 16
years  is devastating.   The lack  of resources  indispensable for providing
basic human needs such as safe water, food and sanitation is overwhelming.

77.  In addition  to the problem  of malnutrition among children,  including
infants, the  general disruption of  health services country-wide  decreases
life expectancy  on a  formidable scale.   Factors  such  as deprivation  of
education,   limited  meaningful   human   contact  and   easy   access   to
sophisticated weapons, coupled with the experience  of the cruelties of war,
destroy  the value system  of many  young people, resulting in  a failure to
discourage them from participating in violent activities.

78.  As a  result of the prevailing harsh environment, the cultural heritage
of Afghan society is exposed to wanton destruction.

 B.  Recommendations

1.  Peace-building

79.   International  efforts  should  be concentrated  on  accelerating  the
ongoing peace process with due  regard to the right of  the Afghan people to

80.  Before  and during the  course of  achieving a  solution for  permanent
peace,  every  effort should  be  made  to curb  violence  and  to  diminish
antagonism among competing factions and members  of the general public  from
diverse tribal, religious, social and cultural backgrounds.

81.     The  compatibility  of  the  right  to   religious  belief  and  the
preservation of peaceful living should be stressed.

2.  Humanitarian assistance

82.  It is generally assumed that the State that  engenders refugees must be
principally held  responsible for redressing  the consequences arising  from
its actions.   Nevertheless, the refugee  problem in  Afghanistan has always
been  of  concern  to  the  international  community.    It  is  of  crucial
importance that  priority be  given to  increasing humanitarian  assistance,
supported by all nations.

83.   The situation of  returnees and of refugees should be  dealt with as a
whole. The returnees  from refugee camps should be allowed to maintain their
refugee status until  they are  able to live in  security and enjoy a  basic
minimum standard  of living  in peaceful  conditions.   Returnees should  be
encouraged  to participate  in  assisting refugees  in  decisions  regarding
their repatriation.  Food, shelter  and the minimum  requirements for  basic
living  should  be  provided  immediately.    Priority  should  be  given to
ensuring access to food  and a safe environment, free from physical dangers.
This requires continued implementing of the land mines-clearance  programme,
providing  medical  treatment,  and  locating  safe  sources  of  water  and
purifying contaminated water.

84.  In order to divert people from  engaging in such delinquent  activities
as arms dealing, trafficking in narcotics  and cultural artifacts or growing
illicit  crops, it  is essential  to  provide  them with  alternatives which
enable them  to supply the  basic requirements of  their lives.   This would
render them less susceptible to external influences and manipulation.

3.  Rebuilding of society

85.    Just as  voluntary  repatriation  should  be  encouraged, efforts  to
strengthen activities  within Afghan society  are also  necessary to  ensure
non-recurrence  of a  mass exodus  of refugees.   In  this sense,  the  UNDP
projects under  the programme  "Action for Immediate Rehabilitation"  of the
Afghan social environment have been a positive contribution.

 86.  Maintaining an appropriate balance  between initiatives of the  Afghan
people  and those  providing external  assistance is necessary  in designing
any  rehabilitation programme  for  Afghan society.   The  participation and
collaboration of  the Afghan  people and  their organizations,  such as  the
Lawyers Association,  shura-type local entities  and other  non-governmental
groups,  should be  encouraged so  as to  reinforce their  capacity to  meet
their own needs.

87.   In view of  the numerous entities  involved in humanitarian activities
in Afghanistan and  the need  to avoid  duplication, the  activities of  the
United  Nations  Office for  the  Coordination  of  Humanitarian  Assistance
(UNOCHA) should be encouraged and strengthened.

88.  A coherent  system of legal administration should be established with a
view to redressing the utter disregard  of humanitarian and human rights law
and  international  human  rights  norms  as   mandated  by  the  rules   of
international  law and justice.   In the long  term, a  form of human rights
education  should be widely  provided to  law enforcement  personnel and the
general public so as to nurture a human rights culture.

4.  Protection of vulnerable populations

89.   Priority  should be  given to  protecting vulnerable  segments of  the
population such  as women,  children and  the aged  from wartime  cruelties.
Every  effort should  be  made  to  protect  children,  who are  the  future
population  of Afghan  society, from  everyday  violence.   The  practice of
drafting and recruiting children as paracombatants should be prohibited.

90.  World-wide  assistance in providing medical care to mothers and infants
should be  mobilized in  order  to  save the  future generations  of  Afghan

91.   Children  should be  provided with  the  education  to which  they are
entitled.   Teachers,  textbooks   and   other  educational   materials  and
facilities are urgently needed.

92.  Establishment of an international education and  rescue fund for Afghan
children should be considered.

5.  Protection of cultural property

93.   The  cultural  patrimony  forms a  central  part  of the  identity  of
Afghanistan.  The right  of future  generations  of  Afghans to  enjoy their
culture  depends  on  due  regard  being given  to  the  protection  of  the
indigenous culture.  Efforts should be  made internationally to preserve and
to protect the cultural patrimony of Afghanistan.



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Date last posted: 18 December 1999 16:30:10
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