Truth Seeking and the Role of Forensic Science – Kabul, Afghanistan, October 12-14, 2010

“This is an important issue in our country. We need to have a dialogue and understanding. If we don’t solve the problems we know to exist and we put them aside, our wounds will never heal.” Dr. Sima Simar. | Photo: Hakim Muzaher

For the first time since the US invasion of Afghanistan, civil society organizations and victims came together with representatives of the government, at a conference organized by PHR’s International Forensic Program to discuss past atrocities and how a peace and reconciliation process should deal with them.

This first conference drew over 120 participants, representing the national and provincial governments, judges, prosecutors, police, journalists, and members of ulema religious councils, victims’ groups, Afghan civil society, and international organizations. Speakers included Dr. Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission; Justice Mohammad Omar Barakzai of the Afghanistan Supreme Court; General Mirza Mohammad Yarmand, General Director of the Criminal Investigation Department at the Ministry of Interior; and Dr. Khalid Bator Hasan Zurmati, Director of the Forensic Science Department.

A Mullah from Kandahar discusses the question of the opening of graves with the Vice President of the Supreme Court. While the Judge points out that Sharia law precisely allows the opening of the graves when it is to bring peace and to help family members, the Mullah is strongly opposed. | Photo: Hakim Muzaher

As attendees stated, the only means by which meaningful peace and reconciliation can be achieved is by beginning a truth-seeking process, with vigorous yet respectful support from the international community.

The Conference on Truth Seeking and the Role of Forensic Science was made possible through a grant from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State. The Transitional Justice Coordination Group (TJCG) co-hosted the conference. Dallas Mazoori of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) transcribed conference presentations. Karen Naimer, JD, edited the conference report. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) provided access to its provincial offices for country-wide support in identifying participants to the conference.