Grant assistance for Afghanistan
Source: Government of Japan 25 Mar 2005
The Government of Japan decided to provide grant assistance of 1.2 billion yen (US$12 million) to be used for the purchase of necessary equipment and goods for the improvement of economic structures and for the project of reintegration of ex-combatants and former refugees based upon the national development programs of Afghanistan, which has suffered from over 20 years of civil war.
Afghanistan to work out national plan on women's rights
KABUL, March 27, Mar 27, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Afghan government has launcheda massive consultation with different authorities to work out a national plan on protecting and ensuring women's rights in the post-conflict country, an Afghan official said Sunday here.
The Ministry of Women's Affairs began promoting the movement after a governmental delegation attended the Beijing Plus Ten Conference in New York from Feb. 28 to March 14, an annual meeting between UN member states and civil society representatives reviewing issues affecting women and girls.
"As a result, the Ministry launched a three-month consultative process with government ministries and Afghan NGOs on generating a National Plan of Action for the Women of Afghanistan," Monema Mansour, the media official from the Ministry of Women's Affairs, told the press.
The Afghan government has committed to promoting women's rights in the post-Taliban rebuilding process since 2001. The recent appointment of Habiba Sorabi, the first female governor of central Bamiyan province and in Afghanistan's history, along with four other high level female officials in Karzai's current cabinet, is regarded as a milestone for women's involvement in politics in the conservative Islamic country.
However, only a small percentage of women have gained working opportunities throughout the country while most of women in remote rural areas were still deprived of their rights.
A human rights watch organization based in Washington reported this month that widespread abuses of women and children were prevailing in regional militia dominated parts.
"The National Plan of Action will bring Afghanistan in line with its international commitment to eradicate gender inequalities in the country," Mansour said.
Massoud’s assassination: 4 suspects go on trial in Paris
PARIS: Four suspects were set to go on trial in Paris on Tuesday to face charges they helped murder Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud, just two days before the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
The suspects are accused of forging and obtaining the false documents that enabled two suicide killers -- Dahmane Adb al-Sattar and Bouraoui el-Ouaer -- to pose as Tunisian journalists traveling with stolen Belgian passports.
The fake journalists approached Massoud in the northern Afghan town of Khwaja Bahauddin for an interview during which they blew up both themselves and Massoud.
Massoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir, was the military leader of the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban regime in power in Kabul in 2001.
French anti-terrorism judges Jean-Louis Bruguihre and Jean-Frangois Ricard said in November when ordering the suspects to stand trial that the investigation was not into Massoud's killing per se, but the extensive support network backing the assassins.
Using the passports found on Massoud's assassins, investigators said they traced the support network and found that Massoud's killers were able to carry out the deed by using channels for transporting Islamist volunteers for jihad, or holy war, from Europe.
The four suspects are Youssef el-Aouni, 31, a Frenchman of Morroccan origin; Adel Tebourski, 41, also French of Tunisian origin; Abderahmane Ameroud, a 27-year-old Algerian, and Mehrez Azouz, 37, a French-Algerian.
According to investigators, Tebourski admitted to belonging to an Islamist group led by al-Sattar composed of about 10 people.
He also reportedly described how before Dahmane left for Afghanistan in May 2000 he exchanged up to 30,000 francs into dollars (6,000 dollars) for the assassin. Four other radical Islamist suspects also will face court in Paris this week, three of them suspected of having organized paramilitary sessions allegedly aimed at selecting recruits to go to Afghanistan.
The training was alleged to have taken place in the Fontainebleau forest south of Paris and in the French Alps. Another suspect is charged with being in France illegally. The trials are expected to last until April 20. afp
Arabic, Pashto interpreters are recruited
By Lisa Fernandez San Jose Mercury News (California, USA) March 27, 2005
In an unprecedented recruiting effort, a California company is launching a massive Bay Area campaign next month to hire Pashto and Arabic speakers to help the U.S. Army with its work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At least 1,000 language experts are being sought to help the coalition forces conduct prisoner-of-war interrogations and war-crimes interviews, and to analyze foreign documents and interpret for soldiers as they rebuild schools, homes and roads.
Not surprisingly, the recruitment drive is as polarizing as the war on terror itself. The speakers of these languages -- many of whom emigrated here from the countries now occupied by U.S. troops -- are divided about whether they should take such jobs.
Those who view the military as liberators are receptive. Those who view the soldiers as oppressors are not. And still others may be ambivalent about U.S. foreign policy, but see the value of having native speakers assist the Army to avoid war-zone tragedies that arise when soldiers and civilians can't understand each other. Interpreters also can be watchdogs, they say.
For Moina Shaiq, an active member in Fremont's Islamic Society of the East Bay, the starting wage of $100,000 for a one-year tour isn't worth it.
``First we destroyed their country and now we're rebuilding it,'' Shaiq said. ``Iraqis want us out of there. We had no business being there in the first place.''
But there are many other Muslims and Arabic speakers who support the United States' toppling of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. They consider themselves Americans now, and want to help their new country in any way they can.
One of those loyal foot-soldiers is Sami Aljabiri, 36, of Phoenix, who was part of a student uprising against Saddam in 1991, and fled Iraq five years later as a refugee.
``I know both cultures and I believe I can make a difference,'' Aljabiri said in a phone interview from Georgia, where he will be deployed to Iraq any day. ``I want to help the two countries I love: Iraq and America. Ninety-five percent of the people in Iraq have no love for Saddam and they appreciate the U.S. It only takes a handful of people to make the news.''
Aljabiri is one of about 35 interpreters who have signed contracts with Thomas Computer Solutions Translations of Long Beach to aid the U.S. military with Operation Enduring Freedom. TCS will be recruiting in San Francisco, Monterey, Concord and Newark from April 9 to 16. This is the first time staff members have sought Pashto-speaking interpreters, said company spokesman Miguel Tuason.
Even Tuason said he's a bit surprised that natives of Afghanistan, Iraq and other Arabic countries are signing up to aid the U.S. Army, considering the fair amount of anti-war sentiment among these populations. But he noted that among a significant number of others, there is gratitude for the United States for getting rid of hard-line Islamists and dictators, and paving the way for democratic elections in both countries. Most of the new Arabic-speaking recruits, he said, voted in Iraq's historic election earlier this year.
``They see it as a way to go back home, to see their families,'' he said. ``There's also a lot of work to be done rebuilding bridges, houses and schools. They want to see their country be a country again.''
Fremont's large Afghan population has mixed feelings about the United States' involvement -- and unfulfilled promises -- in Afghanistan.
``There will be some reluctance from the Afghan community for this type of job,'' said Rona Popal, executive director of Fremont's Afghan Coalition. ``There'll be fear that they will be used as spies. They may hesitate because they'll fear the U.S. government will think they're Taliban because they speak Pashto.''
But Popal said she would encourage Afghans to take the job. And she said ultimately, most Afghans are pleased the United States took down the Taliban. She said that having Afghan-born interpreters overseeing U.S. Army affairs could help prevent the type of scandal that occurred at the Abu Ghurayb prison, where American guards abused Iraqi prisoners.
``We need to work with U.S. soldiers and be a witness to what's going on,'' she said. ``It's important to find out how they operate, and if something is wrong, to stand up and say, `No, this isn't right.' ''
Report: Army Won't Prosecute 17 Soldiers
Sun Mar 27, 5:40 AM ET Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Army officials have decided not to prosecute 17 soldiers involved in the deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a military report says.
Military investigators recommended courts-martial for the soldiers in the cases of three prisoner deaths for charges ranging from making false statements to murder. Officers rejected those recommendations, ruling that the soldiers lawfully used force or didn't understand the rules for using force, or that there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Eleven U.S. Army soldiers are facing murder or other charges involving the deaths of detainees in Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army Criminal Investigation Command released a report Friday detailing the cases of 27 detainees killed in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan between August 2002 and November 2004.
Twenty-four cases encompassed the 27 deaths; 16 investigations have been closed and eight remain open, according to the Army report released Friday. Five cases were referred to other agencies, including deaths involving Navy and Marine troops and CIA operatives.
"We take each and every death very seriously and are committed and sworn to investigating each case with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness," said Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command.
Army investigators turn over their recommendations to commanders of the soldiers involved when they finish their investigations. Those commanders can decide whether to bring criminal charges against the accused soldiers.
In one case, commanders decided not to file recommended criminal charges against 11 soldiers involved in the death of a former Iraqi Army lieutenant colonel in January 2004. An autopsy indicated the man died from blunt force injuries and asphyxia.
Investigators determined there was enough evidence for negligent homicide charges against two soldiers and for various lesser charges, ranging from making false statements to assault, against nine others.
The accused soldiers' commander, however, decided that the soldiers were justified in using force against the Iraqi because he was being aggressive and misbehaving. The case is closed.
In another case, Army Special Forces commanders decided against filing charges against members of a unit which shot and killed detainee Mohamed Sayari. The soldiers said Sayari was killed after he lunged for a soldier's gun. Investigators initially suspected the troops killed Sayari because they thought he had revealed U.S. troop movements to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
The third case involved a soldier who killed an Iraqi detainee in September 2003. That soldier's commander decided the soldier was not well informed about the rules for using force against prisoners.
The decision not to prosecute the 17 soldiers was first reported by The New York Times.
One case where soldiers are facing courts-martial involves the death of a former Iraqi Army major general who was stuffed headfirst into a sleeping bag and suffocated. Four 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldiers are awaiting hearings on whether they will be tried on murder charges at Fort Carson, Colo., in that case.
Another case involves three separate killings in the Sadr City sector of Baghdad in August 2004, all involving soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division who allegedly shot the Iraqis during search operations. Two soldiers in these cases have pleaded guilty at courts-martial and charges against two other soldiers are pending courts-martial, the Army said.
In one of the Sadr City cases, two 1st Cavalry soldiers have been convicted of murder.
One is Staff Sgt. Johnny M. Horne, of Winston-Salem, N.C., who pleaded guilty Dec. 10, 2004 to killing a critically wounded 16-year-old Iraqi on Aug. 18, 2004. Horne described it as a mercy killing. He was sentenced to three years in prison, a reduction in rank to private, total forfeiture of wages and a dishonorable discharge.
The other soldier convicted in the same killing was Staff Sgt. Cardenas J. Alban of Inglewood, Calif. He was convicted Jan. 14 and sentenced to one year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge from the Army and reduction in rank to private.
Another 1st Cavalry soldier faces charges of murder and obstruction of justice in the deaths of two other Iraqis who were killed while being detained during the same August 2004 operation in Sadr City. Still another soldier faces charges of murder and making a false statement about one of those two deaths. The involvement of other soldiers is still under investigation.
Afghanistan: Press briefing by Ariane Quentier, Senior Public Information Officer 27 Mar 2005
Source: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) 27 Mar 2005
The guests today are Homa Sabri, National Press Officer for UNIFEM, and H.E. Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics.
Security Council approves extension of UNAMA mandate
The Security Council met last Thursday, 24 March and unanimously adopted resolution 1589 extending the mandate of UNAMA for an additional 12 months, until March 2006. The adoption of the resolution follows the Secretary-General’s recommendation for a 12-month extension last Tuesday.
In the resolution, the Security Council recognizes that the United Nations must continue to play its central and impartial role in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan. It also welcomes the Joint Electoral Management Body’s announcement of a date for the elections (18 September), calling on UNAMA to provide necessary support and urging the international community to make financial contributions.
In terms of security, the resolution calls on Member States to supply more personnel for ISAF and the establishment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams. It also reminds the international community to continue addressing the threat posed by Al Qaida, the Taliban and other extremist groups, factional violence, or violence involving the drug trade. The resolution welcomes the effort of the Afghan government to implement a national drug control strategy.
Last but not least, the resolution reiterates the need for the Secretary-General to eventually come up with a recommendation on UNAMA’s future role after the parliamentary elections.
Click here to view the English version of the press release and the text of the resolution.
44,431 military personnel now disarmed
To date Afghanistan's New Beginnings Programme (ANBP) has indicated that 44,431 military personnel have disarmed.
The New Year marked the end of Main Phase Three. During this time, a total of 44,414 soldiers have disarmed and 76,744 have been taken off the payroll of the Ministry of Defense, amounting to a saving of USD $70 million to the Government. As we explained earlier, the discrepancy between both figures is due to the fact that a number of soldiers who were paid by the Ministry of Defense simply did not exist. However, their presence on the payroll allowed a number of commanders to cash the money from their fictitious salary.
Main Phase Four, due to start on New Year’s Day, 21 March, is beginning today - the delay being a result of the Nau Roz break. Phase Four means that in the coming weeks, ANBP's mobile disarmament units will attempt to pick up the remaining 15,000 or so Afghan Military Forces, who have not yet entered the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process.
Although disarmament must finish by 30 June, the process of providing ex-soldiers with job training or support for a new life as civilians will continue until June of next year. As of 25 March, the total number of those who have entered the reintegration phase is 38,968.
The total number of Heavy Weapons collected and placed in guarded compounds was 8,694 last Thursday. Although I have not received new figures, I do not believe they have changed significantly in the last three days.
In Kabul, the Joint Operations Centre (JOC), the body responsible for the management of the flood response operation, is now fully operational. Initiated by UNAMA on behalf of the Government of Afghanistan, it is being led by the Department of Disaster Preparedness (DDP), and includes representatives from concerned government ministries including the Ministry of Rural Development and Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Defense, as well as UNAMA, ISAF and the Coalition.
Meanwhile, the flood-risk maps have been produced. Developed by the Forecasting Analysis Group, made up of representatives of the Afghan Government, UN agencies and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the maps identify flood-prone areas throughout the country broken down by region.
The maps can be viewed by clicking on:
- Afghanistan Information Management Systems
Third Annual Afghanistan Development Forum to be held in Kabul next week
The Third Annual Afghanistan Development Forum 2005 (ADF) will be held from 4-6 April at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The theme of this year’s forum will be “Accelerating Economic Development.”
The ADF will provide the first international donor forum for Afghanistan’s democratically elected President and his new cabinet. It is a particularly important meeting considering that donors still fund more than 93% of Afghanistan’s national budget, Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development efforts need to be accelerated, and the new cabinet will discuss its vision and strategy with donors and regional partners.
The key goals of this year’s forum are: to present the government’s 1384 budget and vision for development; to urge donors to remain committed to Afghanistan over the long term; to discuss how to accelerate Afghanistan’s reconstruction; and to strengthen the relationship between the new cabinet and donors.
The opening session of the forum will include an introduction by President Karzai, a welcome address by Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullah, and a series of speeches on the forum’s main themes. The forum itself will be organized into panel discussions revolving around eight themes: Accelerating Infrastructure Development, Pro-poor Approach to Economic Growth, Creating an Enabling Environment for Private Sector Investment, Public Administration Reform and Economic Management, Review of Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and other Trust Funds, Fighting Drugs and Poverty, Security, Justice & Equitable Political Participation. The final day will include a panel discussion open to all cabinet ministers regarding Strengthening Regional Cooperation.
As a special guest to talk about Afghanistan’s Development Forum, Mr. Adib Farhadi, the Director of the Afghanistan Development and Reconstruction Services (ARDS), will come next Thursday and give you a presentation on the Afghanistan Development Forum.
For further information regarding the ADF, please contact the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Naweed Moez, at 070 281 970. The official web site is www.adf.gov.af.
Please Click here to view the English version of the press release. Click here to view the ADF Provisional Agenda.
Pilot phase of Provincial Justice Initiative complete
The first phase of the Provincial Justice Initiative (PJI) has been completed, with the end of the project in Kunduz. This first phase of the project has already covered two other provinces, Paktya and Balkh.
The Provincial Justice Initiative project aims to re-activate the criminal justice administration in Afghanistan by developing training as well as capacity building activities in the justice sector. In the last three months, some 150 local justice operators - such as judges, prosecutors, judicial police members and defence lawyers – have been trained on criminal procedures in these three provinces. Forty judicial administrative personnel are currently being trained in court administration by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC). UNAMA is also involved with ad hoc rule of law and human rights protection seminars.
By mid 2005, the project will expand to four other provinces, Herat, Kandahar, Badakhshan and Nangahar.
The Italian Embassy is supporting this project in cooperation with the international Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC).
Click here to view the English version of the press release.
Homa Sabri, National Programme Officer for the United Nations Development Fund for Women - UNIFEM
Last week we had a meeting with the technical support of UNIFEM and 29 ministries. Seven ministries made commitments to sit this week with the Department of Planning of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to draw the first draft of a national plan for women. The draft will also be shared with NGOs, shared with the cabinet for approval and then submitted to donors for fundraising.
Press Conference by the Minister of Counter Narcotics, Mr. Habibullah Qaderi
As you know, the Afghan Government is very serious in its desire to rid the country of the opium poppy menace. Much has happened of a positive nature over the past six months.
The whole view of the people around Afghanistan has changed towards the Government’s Counter Narcotics campaign. Afghans know that the Government is now very serious, and will indeed continue to be so.
President Hamid Karzai’s strong statement during the National Counter Narcotics Conference held on 9 December 2004 stressed to stop poppy cultivation and encourage people to grow licit crops. A religious decree has been issued banning everything to do with narcotics including poppy cultivation and consumption. The next steps of the government were the establishment of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, followed by the establishment of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Counter Narcotics, the Counter Narcotics Consultative Group and Counter Narcotics Trust Fund to coordinate funds of donor nations for law enforcement and alternative livelihoods.
As such the UNODC survey launched today is a very interesting indicator of how the situation is changing (the English report can be viewed at: www.unodc.org/unodc/en/crop_monitoring).
The Rapid Assessment Survey was carried out jointly in February this year by the UNODC and the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics. It is conducted annually in advance of the UNODC Opium Survey which is published each year in autumn.
In last year’s survey, published in November 2004, the UNODC reported that the cultivated area of the Afghan opium crop had grown by 64 percent, compared to the 2003 crop.
The Rapid Assessment Survey announced here today is to give an update of the situation between the main report of last autumn 2004 and the UNODC Opium report that will be published this coming autumn 2005.
The Rapid Assessment Survey of this coming year’s crop gives trends of cultivation rather than figures. It is a breakdown, province by province, of these trends.
Other indicators for each province are also given in the Rapid Assessment Survey, such as opium prices, planting times, and the expected dates for the harvest. You can also see in the report other details for each province, such as the security situation.
But the main finding of this survey is a falling trend in opium poppy cultivation in the majority of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. This is notably in the main poppy growing provinces of recent years, such as Nangarhar, Helmand and Uruzgan Provinces. However, in five provinces, there has been an increase in poppy cultivation, such as Kandahar and Farah Provinces.
The Rapid Assessment Survey was carried out by local field surveyors in more than 200 villages in over half of the country’s districts. Work will start in April for the annual Opium Survey of 2005. A detailed survey will be conducted throughout Afghanistan through to August.
Questions & Answers:
Question: Mr. Minister you mentioned the decrease of poppy cultivation in some provinces but the United States reported the increase of cultivation in Afghanistan. Why is there a difference between these two reports?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: You have read the old reports which belong to 2003 and 2004. They reported an increase in poppy cultivation in 2004, but the Rapid Assessment Survey is the latest report which expresses the cultivation trends of opium poppy for 2005.
Question: A decrease has been noted in Nangarhar, Laghman and Kunar, so what are the programs targeted for those provinces concerning Alternative Livelihoods?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: Indeed the government has plans for them providing Alternative Livelihoods projects.
Question: Have you received assistance pledged by the US government and what will be the basic assistance of your ministry for farmers?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: The government of US has funded some law enforcement projects related to police departments as well as some projects of alternative livelihoods in Helmand province through US AID (US Agency for International Development), implemented by some NGO’s. There is a need to accelerate activities for the government priorities related to agricultural development, irrigation systems, provision of certified seeds, and the transfer of new technology to increase the agricultural productivity. The aim of the establishment of the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund is also to coordinate the above-mentioned assistance.
Question: Some of the senior government officials are involved in drugs, according to the Minister of Interior who expressed that he has a list of them but nothing has happened?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: In fact I haven’t seen that list yet. But evidence is important first to proceed their cases within a court. We didn’t have any system for the criminals involved in drug related activities in the past but now we are working on the criminal justice system, including the establishment of special courts, prosecutions and jails. The Criminals Justice Task Force has been established. Judges, prosecutors and police have been trained to track the drug related cases fast, either for the senior government officials or non-governmental people.
Question: The Governor of Nangarhar reported 90 per cent and the governor of Kandahar 80 per cent poppy eradication so there is controversy between the reports and their claims also a lot of the farmers migrated from the country in the presence of law enforcement pressures and there is not any Alternative Livelihoods for them. In your view, will it not create problems for the government?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: We have sent the poppy eradication verification teams to the provinces to verify governor-led eradication. Still we are waiting for the reports, and whenever we receive the report we will publish them. There are two issues regarding the second part of your question. Poppy cultivation is banned by the constitution and in the religious decree issued by the Ulemas of the country, there is not any legal aspect for the people to grow poppy. Secondly, we are working with related ministries to provide Alternative Livelihoods to people and farmers, but it all takes time. It is a multi-dimensional struggle including counter narcotics issues such as the provision of Alternative Livelihoods, law enforcement and interdiction efforts, drug demand reduction and the treatment of addicts, a public information campaign, criminal justice system to deal with the drug related cases and to enhance capacity within the ministry and other ministries for the effective operations.
Question: Farmers claim that provincial officials are leaving their own poppy fields but they are eradicating poppy field of poor farmers. Will this continue?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: I would like to repeat again that we do not have any evidence proving this claim, but I can say that it is possible.
Question: What are the reasons for the increase of poppy cultivation in those 5 provinces where the survey says there has been an increase? Are the provincial officials not capable or are there no Alternative Livelihoods? And as a minister what do you think about the sufficiency of the international community’s assistance?
Habibullah Qaderi, Minister of Counter Narcotics: There were several reasons involved in the increase of poppy cultivation in those provinces like the drought before the cultivation season, the lack of governmental officials’ attention and the unawareness of the people that their poppy crops will be eradicated. With reference to the second part of your question, the assistance of the international community is not enough in this regard.
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