Top Human Rights Investigator Fired after Critical Report Published on Coalition Activities in Afghanistan

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Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Jason McClurg
Amidst strong U.S. pressure, the United Nations fired its top human rights official tasked with monitoring activities in Afghanistan after the release of a report that was critical of U.S.-led Coalition activities in the region. American diplomats, at a meeting in Geneva of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, pressed the group to end the mandate of the "independent expert on human rights in Afghanistan." According to an unnamed U.S. official, the position was eliminated partly because the human rights situation in Afghanistan was no longer troubling enough to require it. However, according to information detailed in the report, it appears as if Afghanistan still has a long way to go before human rights conditions are acceptable. In April 2004, Cherif Bassiouni, a law professor and internationally recognized expert in human rights and humanitarian law, was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to serve as an independent expert and to draft a report on the human rights situation in Afghanistan. Pursuant to that mandate, Bassiouni undertook a massive investigation, including discussions with officials from the United Nations, the European Union, the Government of Afghanistan, the United States, national and international NGOs and victims of human rights violations. Additionally, Bassiouni visited Afghanistan in August 2004 and February 2005 to personally monitor the situation...[more]