A coalition of Afghan war crimes victims is lobbying against the Afghanistan Peace Jirga and the Afghanistan government’s effort to begin a reconciliation process with the Taliban and other insurgents. The Afghanistan Peace Jirga, which took place early last week, brought together approximately 1,600 delegates from around Afghanistan to discuss building peace and the motives of insurgency groups. However, Afghan war crimes victims, such as surviving family members and a group of 24 NGO’s called the Transitional Justice Coordination Group, say that there needs to be more accountability for war crimes and that negotiations with insurgents is not the long-term solution.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, victims of war crimes and the Transition Justice Coordination Group met in May at a symbolic “victims’ jirga” to make their case to the Afghan government. In 2005, as the government adopted a Transitional Justice Action Plan, the group believed that there would be expanded rights for victims of war crimes and greater punishment of war criminals. The plan was never implemented, however, and the government has increased its amnesty laws to protect belligerents. Many people have begun to feel that there needs to be greater justice for war crimes victims before negotiations continue, reports the Monitor.
Only about 20 percent of the Jirga delegates were women, according to the Seattle Times, despite the repeated pleas of national and international groups to involve women in the reconciliation process. In February, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Robert Casey (D-PA) held a joint subcommittee hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Afghan Women and Girls: Building the Future of Afghanistan. Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, traveled from Afghanistan to testify. Dr. Samar provided invaluable insight on the current situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. She warned: “women must be included in the reconciliation process and their voices must be heard.”