Afghanistan too weak to go after rights violators: Karzai
President Hamid Karzai said yesterday addressing human rights abuses in Afghanistan's violent past would take years with his government still too weak to take on those behind the continuing atrocities.
The president said he had held back on implementing a three-year peace, reconciliation and justice plan that he signed in 2005 "on purpose" to prevent any violent backlash from those behind human rights violations in the past.
"There are tyrants in our land," Karzai said at a meeting of around 200 rights activists and victims of alleged war crimes in this country's three decades of conflict.
"They exist in our political circles, but we must move with lots of caution so as not to cause lots of noises and more human rights violations," he said at the event to mark the 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Former warlords and other people alleged to be linked to murders, rapes, torture and other atrocities in Afghanistan's bloody past hold seats in the administration and democratically elected parliament.
Several people at the meeting, including some claiming to be victims of abuse, demanded Karzai explain why these alleged abusers had not been dealt with and the reconciliation plan acted on.
"Because the power to implement it does not exist in the government," Karzai responded.
"It will take time. We are better than five, six years ago but to bring an ideal justice would maybe take several years, nine, 10 years," said Karzai, who took power six years ago after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime.
The president said rights violations and atrocities were continuing today with his government unable to reach the culprits. He said these included warlords who still hold sway in some areas as well as Taliban insurgents.
"Still there are people -- I don't mean the Taliban -- who by the force of (the) gun, money and political power are stepping on Afghanistan's people's rights," he said.
"There are places where the government can't reach and persuade those still violating human rights."
"The government is better compared to five years ago but there are still places where the government is weak to safeguard the human rights."
The justice plan has a range of provisions, including compensation and documentation of abuses, and also suggests the possibility of prosecution -- a suggestion that has angered many of the men who rights groups say committed abuses.