Truth commission should investigate all offendenders

Monday, March 11, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan -- U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson on Sunday said a proposed truth commission in Afghanistan must investigate atrocities committed by all factions, not just the ousted Taliban.

"It's not acceptable in the context of Afghanistan to look at a partial truth," Robinson told reporters in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

On Saturday, she and Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai endorsed the idea of a truth commission to uncover atrocities committed over two decades of war.

But Karzai's government may be too fragile to withstand an investigation into abuses by those currently in power, especially members of the northern alliance who fought the Taliban but who were themselves accused of human rights violations.

When northern alliance members held power from 1992-1996, they destroyed much of Kabul in factional fighting that killed thousands.

A human rights conference in Kabul on Saturday was attended by U.N. officials, Afghan leaders and human rights activists.

Its purpose was to find ways to implement the human rights provisions of last December's agreement in Bonn, Germany, setting up Karzai's interim government. That administration is supposed to rule until June, when a grand council will be set up to choose a new government ahead of elections in 2003. Many are hoping that last year's routing of the Taliban can reverse decades of human rights violations and start the country on the path to peace.

Yet those efforts will likely require forming a viable central government free of factional fighting and warlord rule that still plague much of Afghanistan.

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