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Complete information and background of the organization

AIHRC

Overview/Background/History

The AIHRC is a national human rights institution working in the area of protection and promotion of human rights. This Institution was established based on the Bone Agreement and Presidential Decree and afterwards, pursuant to Article 58 of the Afghan Constitution, it found a legal base to monitor the observance of human rights as well as to protect and promote human rights in the country, "Every individual shall complain to this Commission about the violation of personal human rights. The Commission shall refer human rights violations of individuals to legal authorities and assist them in defense of their rights. 

The structure, duties and mandates of the AIHRC have also been defined in a special law. The AIHRC has a board of leadership composed of 9 Commissioners that are determined by the President for a period of five years. The AIHRC’s Chairperson is a member of the Commission that is appointed by the President. Deputy Chairperson of the AIHRC is elected from among the members of the AIHRC.

The Secretariat of the AIHRC is headed by the Executive Director of the Commission. All the administrative and executive activities of the Commission are regulated by the Executive Director. There are several program units in the structure of the AIHRC to carry out the activities of the Commission. These Units are as follows:

Human Rights Education;

Monitoring and Investigation of Human Rights Violations;

Police Ombudsmen;

Women’s Rights Unit

Children’s Rights Unit

Persons with Disability Rights Unit

Transitional justice Unit

Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Unit

Research and Investigation Unit

Special Monitoring Unit (monitoring the observance of international humanitarian law during armed conflicts)

Publications Unit.

The following units are supporting the AIHRC:

Legal Advisor

Database Unit

Information technology (IT)

Human Resources Unit and

Finance Unit

The programs and activities of the AIHRC are carried out by a Central Office in Kabul, eight regional offices and six provincial offices across the country. Each of the Regional Office covers several provinces and provincial offices also work in the same province. These offices are as follows:

  • Kabul Regional Office
  • Jalalabad Regional Office
  • Mazar-e-Sharif Regional Office
  • Herat Regional Office;
  • Kandahar Regional Office;
  • Bamiyan Regional Office;
  • Kunduz Regional Office;
  • Gardez Regional Office;
  • Badakhshan Provincial Office
  • Daikundi Provincial Office
  • Faryab Provincial Office
  • Helmand Provincial Office
  • Uruzgan Provincial Office
  • Ghor Provincial Office

Through these fifteen Offices, the AIHRC covers all the country to implement its programs and activities.

Objectives, activities and programs of the AIHRC:

According to the Law on the Structure, Duties and Mandate of the AIHRC, the Commission is mandated to carry out the following five activities:

Monitoring the observance of human rights

Promotion and protection of human rights

Monitoring the situation of and the people’s access to human rights and freedoms

Investigations of research on violations of human rights

Adoption of measures to improve and promote the human rights situation in the country. 

Activities and working programs of the AIHRC is outlined within the AIHRC’s Strategic Plan and Five-year Action Plan. The current Strategic Plan and Action Plan of the Commission covers the years from 2014 to 2018 are covered. The new Strategic Plan Commission was prepared during a long process in which more than 761 people, state institutions, civil society, media, judges, prosecutors, police, human rights defenders and women, representatives of supporting institutions were involved. The AIHRC’s activities and programs focus on four strategic objectives:

Leadership

Promotion of human rights

Empowerment

Protection and monitoring of human rights

Article 21 of the Law on Structure, Duties and Mandate of the AIHRC has defined the AIHRC’s duties and mandates in 35 paragraphs. Part of the AIHRC’s duties, which are established in the Law on Structure, Duties and Mandates of the AIHRC are as follows:

1. Monitoring the human rights situation;

2. Monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the Constitution, other laws, bills and regulations, and Afghanistan’s commitment to human rights standards;

3. Monitoring the performance of those administrative systems, legal and judicial institutions, and national and international, profitable and non-profitable organizations in the country that affect human rights.

4. Monitoring the performance of state authorities and Non- Governmental organizations concerning the fair and accessible distribution of services and welfare.

5. Monitoring the situation of citizens’ access to their human rights and freedoms;

6. Visiting detention centers to monitor the implementation laws on the treatment of prisoners;

7. Investigation of cases of human rights violations;

8. Collecting documents, evidence and testimonies of witnesses on cases of human rights violations;

9. Referring the results of investigations of the cases of human rights violation to relevant authorities and following up on cases in order to address violations and prevent future violations;

10. Formulating and implementing of a national human rights education plan and public awareness programs;

11. Cooperating with relevant institutions on improving human rights awareness in educational curriculum;

12. Planning and implementing programs that include the investigation of crimes and human rights abuses as part of the transitional process;

13. Providing advice to the National Assembly/Parliament and the government to legislate, adopt, and amend laws in support of human rights promotion and protection, and to abolish laws that are not in compliance with international human rights standards;

14. Providing advice to the National Assembly and the government regarding signing and acceding to international human rights conventions and treaties;

15. Providing advice to the government for better implementation of Afghanistan’s commitments to international human rights conventions;

16. Carrying out research to find effective ways of harmonizing principles and mechanisms of international human rights instruments with Afghan culture and national traditions and making suggestions in this respect;

17. Providing advice and necessary information to the government to prepare

Afghanistan’s reports which fulfill its treaty obligations;

18. Cooperating with government and non-governmental authorities and other organizations to improve the implementation of human rights standards and raise the level of human rights observance in relevant areas;

19. Cooperation for implementation of administration reforms to ensure, support and improve human rights in Afghanistan;

20. Cooperating with the United Nations, and regional and international organizations within the scope of its mandate and power;

21. Conducting public consultations and surveys to find practical ways of promoting and protecting human rights and develop relevant programs;

22. Providing advice and submitting recommendations to the national, provincial and district councils and other relevant authorities for promotion and protection of human rights;

23. Building the capacity of civil society groups and local human rights organizations and supporting their activities;

24. Releasing and publishing of public declarations and official statements on important issues of human rights;

25. Demanding officials to explain the causes of non-observance of human rights principles;

26. Dissemination and promotion of human rights for public awareness;

27. Submitting annual reports to the President on the human rights situation;

28. Releasing and publishing reports and statements on human rights situation in

Afghanistan;

29. Providing guidance and advice to the President on how to address human rights violations and abuses;

Managing and administering headquarters, regional and provincial offices and monitoring the performance, activities and the behavior of the staff members;

31. Building relations at the national and international level in the field of human rights activities and better implementation of the provisions of this Law;

32. Securing necessary facilities and opportunities to promote the activities of the Commission;

33. Regulating the reporting on the human rights situation for scientific and practical use;

34. Adopting bills and regulations to regulate the affairs relating to the rights, responsibilities, privileges and insurance for the staff members of the Commission; 

35. Having the responsibility to implement the present Law.

A number of the most important tasks carried out by the AIHRC to achieve the strategic objectives established in the Law on Structure, Duties and Mandates of the AIHRC as well as in the Action Plan are as below:

  • Conduction of academic seminars and press conferences, and issuing press statements and press releases on human rights issues and events throughout the year;
  • Launching dialogues and national, regional and international conferences to discuss and investigate the important human rights issues;
  • Continuous monitoring of the media to review the reflection of human rights issues, and assess public opinion relating to human rights issues, and preparing and publishing newsletters;
  • Launching a national inquiry on acute human rights issues at the country level, and collection, categorization, and analysis of its data, and publication of a research report, presentation of specific recommendations and suggestions to responsible authorities, and their follow up;
  • Review, investigation and evaluation of laws, policies, decrees, and programs of government institutions in accordance with the human rights norms, and presentation of recommendations to relevant authorities;
  • Conduction of quarterly meetings with the government officials, members of parliament, provincial councils, justice and judicial organs, NEPA, the High Office of Anti-corruption and national and international institutions and presentation of recommendations to them to improve the human rights situation, environment, fighting corruption and so on;
  • Active participation in the annual meetings of the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions (ICC) and the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) and other regional and international conferences and meetings;
  • Active participation in meetings, seminars, conferences, ceremonies and events, which are held by state institutions, civil society organizations and other bodies;
  • Participation and taking the responsibility to lead human rights advocacy network at the local and national level, and also participation in networks and human rights committees  at the international level in order to play the AIHRC’s leadership role, and provision of recommendations, suggestions, reports and statements;
  • Support and protection of educational institutions, civil society organizations, human rights and women's rights activists, journalists and victims of human rights violations;
  • Conducting capacity building and training workshops on human rights, and teaching training and advocacy methods for civic activists, university students, members of the security forces, judicial attorney authorities, staff of detention centers, advocates etc. And also special programs, such as launching child to child educational programs and so on;
  • Convening quarterly coordination meetings with civil society organizations and the media in order to create coordination among them and to receive and address their human rights problems and demands;
  • Production and broadcasting of TV and radio programs on local and national television and radio concerning human rights issues, publication of a monthly human rights magazine and other topics on Human Rights on the AIHRC’s website and the establishment of libraries in the AIHRC’s Offices;
  • Preparation and publication of books and research and training manuals in the area of human rights;
  • Incorporation of human rights teaching programs in the curriculum of higher education institutions, semi-higher education, specialized training centers and special schools by signing special memorandum of understandings with their authorities, and inclusion of the terms, concepts and issues of human rights in school curriculum;
  • Conduction of annual assessment of the implementation of the AIHRC’s Annual Action Plan and other administrative and financial affairs related to the Strategic Plan and Annual Action Plan at all levels and annual evaluation of staff, continuously monitoring their performance and the revision of the modification of systems, procedures and regulations related to the AIHRC’s finance and administrative affairs;
  • Provision of capacity building and education opportunities for the AIHRC’s staff inside and outside the country;
  • Preparation and publication of the annual thematic research reports on various human rights issues for the investigation of the human rights situation at the country level, and presentation of specific recommendations to the responsible authorities and follow up on them;
  • Preparation of shadow UPR report and sending it to the international authorities and other shadow reports;
  • Conduction of human rights field monitoring missions, children field monitoring, monitoring women’s rights, monitoring the persons with disabilities rights situation, and so on in order to monitor the level of citizens’ access to their human rights; 
  • Monitoring the citizens' access to justice in order to improve their access to justice in judicial organs;
  • Monitoring detention centers and places to improve access of persons deprived of their freedom to their human rights;
  • Conduction of border monitoring missions to monitor the rights of refugees and returnees;
  • Monitoring the presidential, parliamentary, provincial councils, district councils and municipal elections process, and preparation and publication of related reports;
  • Monitoring the protests and public gatherings, and preparation of special reports on them;
  • Continuous monitoring of armed conflicts and civilian casualties arising from them, and preparation of annual reports on them;
  • Provision of legal services and assistances to victims of human rights violations and violence against women, and defending their human rights in judicial organs;

It is worth mentioning that the AIHRC’s Strategic Plan is a results-based planning, and has 11 outcomes, 28 outputs and 110 active. Strategic Plan is strengthened and complemented by the Annual Action Plan and a budget.

  • Registration, assessment and follow up of human rights violation cases of various groups in the society by different organs in order to promote public access to their human rights;
  • Protection of vulnerable persons, victims of violence against women and children, addicted persons and poor people through introducing them to related authorities and institutions;
  • Active participation in the committees for drafting and amendment of laws to include human rights norms in the laws of our country through making recommendations;
  • Monitor the implementation of the UN recommendations by the government of Afghanistan and preparation of report in this regard

It is worth mentioning that the AIHRC’s strategic plan contains 11 outcomes and 28 outputs on the base of which 110 activities of the AIHRC have been considered. The strategic plan is supported and completed by annual action plans and a budget.

Effectiveness of the AIHRC’s Achievements

During 13 years after its establishment, the AIHRC has made outstanding achievements in the areas of human rights promotion, protection and dissemination in the country.

  • More than 500.000 people ( 44% of them women) received human rights education;
  • 163.229 minute radio programs and 49330 minute television programs were produced and broadcasted.
  • A total of 3.933.998 copies of Human Rights Monthly, training materials and handouts was published and distributed;
  • Around 27372 complaints on cases of human rights violation were registered and evaluated by the AIHRC
  • Around 29947 cases of violence against women were recorded and evaluated by the AIHRC;
  • Around 15859  visitations were made to detention facilities at the country level;
  • A total of 5651 illegal prisoners were released through legal intervention and advocacy efforts made by the AIHRC;
  • A total of 50 private jails were closed through legal interventions made by the AIHRC;
  • 92 mass graves of war victims were identified and evaluated by the AIHRC
  • A total of 65 research , thematic and monitoring reports were prepared and published by the AIHRC
  • A National Consultation on war crimes and cases of human rights violation occurred during the last three decades were carried out;

Three national inquiries on honor killings, sexual assaults, Bacha Bazi, traffic accidents and targeted killings were launched by the AIHRC at the country level and their reports were published; currently, human rights are recognized as a pivotal topic and are considered as part of the national dialogue. Public awareness, understanding of human rights issues has enhanced. Based on a report by the AIHRC in 2011, almost 49 percent of interviewees had a good understanding about human rights issues. People’s access to education and health facilities have been improved. People enjoy their right to freedom of speech, cases of “honor killings” and “sexual assaults” are not considered taboo anymore, the victims and their families talk about these issues. Private jails have been closed (No news about the functioning of private jails are heard at the moment). The eye-catching decrease can be witnessed about cases of torture all over the country. The number of illegal prisoners has decreased considerably. The number of illegal prisoners exceeded 434 persons in 2010. This number decreased to 308 persons in 2011, while 263 illegal prisoners existed in 2012. It shows a 39 % decrease in three years (2010 to 2012). People, civil society institutions, defenders of human rights and media repeatedly talk about transitional justice. The government of Afghanistan is encouraged by the people to prevent warlords and human rights violators from nomination in any future elections. Similarly, coordination groups and victims make advocacy for the ideals of transitional justice and demand for the publishing of the Conflict Mapping Report by the AIHRC.

The AIHRC has cooperation and good relations with civil society institutions, religious scholars, media, and international institutions to carry out its duties and mandates properly. Functioning and performances of the AIHRC depend on the enhancement of cooperation by the state organs, including police, attorney, courts, National Security Department, Parliament and other state institutions and always demands for expansion of relations with them. The AIHRC has close working relations with civil society institutions and makes efforts to build up their capacity and also conducts some joint activities with them.

At the international level, the AIHRC is one of the credible members of the APF. This is an independent regional forum consisting of 15 national human rights institutions of the regional countries. The AIHRC obtained A Status and is recognized as an outstanding national human rights institution.

The AIHRC is a member of the ICC. This committee presents recommendations on working improvements to national human rights institutions in the protection and promotion of human rights and evaluates the compliance of the national human rights activities with the Paris Principles.  In November 2008, after a special evaluation, this Committee confirmed A Status for the AIHRC for a term of five years.

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