“Healing the wounds of the civil war requires both reconciliation and accountability.”
So argue J. Alexander Thier and Scott Worden of USIP in a recent article in CSMonitor.
The authors point out that “although President Hamid Karzai successfully negotiated a crucial amendment to protect the rights of victims of war crimes, the new amnesty law still favors the powerful warlords who sponsored the bill.”
In what seems to be an intentionally vague bit of phrasing, the new bill signed by the president attempts to appease the anxious MPs bent on self-forgiving while at the same time preserving the inalienable rights of the victims:
“The most controversial and confusing aspect of the bill remains its amnesty provisions. On one hand, the revised bill offers general amnesty from prosecution to all former combatants who agree to abide by the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan. However, a crucial clause restricts this reprieve, stating that the amnesty ‘shall not affect individuals’ … criminal or civil claims against persons with respect to individual crimes.’”
Reconciliation and accountability definitely sound great together. Like Khurma and Sawab. Question is, how can both of these be achieved in Afghanistan given the current alignment of powers?
Again the authors:
“The best way to ensure that the new bill becomes a force for reconciliation is to implement it within the framework of the Action Plan for Transitional Justice, enacted by Karzai last December. The plan sets up several mechanisms to foster forgiveness and accountability, such as a commission to vet high-level government officials and a program to build national monuments of remembrance for victims. But crucially, the plan states, ‘[T]here will [not be] amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.’”
However, all indications seem to suggest that what initially catapulted the MPs into a frenzy of action that led to the drawing up of the amnesty bill in the first place was the announcement of the same Action Plan for Transitional Justice enacted by the president (which coincided rather ominously with the trials and executions of Saddam Hussain and his cohorts in Iraq.) It is not entirely clear how the stipulations of the Action Plan can be reconciled with the political contingencies of the day.