[JURIST] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday warned [press release] that recent appointments to Afghanistan’s top human rights body compromise its independence, recommending that President Hamid Karzai [official website] reconsider the appointments and re-open the selection process. Earlier this month President Karzai appointed five new commissioners to the human rights board, known as the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) [official website]. Established under the Afghan Constitution and meant to serve as the overseeing body on human rights issues within the country, the AIHRC has played an “absolutely critical, frontline role in defending human rights in Afghanistan,” according to Pillay. However, Pillay fears that the new appointments do not square well with the Paris Principles [text, PDF], guidelines which set out best practice for such institutions to function independently. The AIHRC is up for review by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions [official website] this upcoming November, a re-accreditation process that could jeopardize their current “A” rating.
Afghanistan is no stranger to criticism [JURIST op-ed] over their human rights objectives. In October 2011 the UN released a report [JURIST report] which showed that nearly half of the 273 detainees interviewed said that they had been subject to torture. A month earlier, HRW released a report showing that the Afghan Local Police had been committing serious rights abuses [JURIST report] and that officers were not being held accountable for these abuses. The UN also released a report in March of 2010 showing that human rights abuses in Afghanistan were intensifying the issue of poverty [JURIST report] in the country, which affected more than two-thirds of its population.