Week 8: To Document Human Rights Violations

This week, I attended USIP’s two-day Expert Roundtable on Documentation of Human Rights Violations, co-hosted by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute headquartered in Sweden and Freedom House’s Afghan Human Rights Coordination Mechanism. While this was a closed event and the discussions cannot be shared, there was great talks about current documentation efforts in Afghanistan by the range of actors and best practices for coordination, victim and witness support, and evidence collection.

Apart from this workshop, I’ve been assisting the Afghanistan team here at USIP with their tracking of the use of corporal punishment by the Taliban against people accused of committing crimes.  In Afghanistan, individuals accused of committing crimes, including moral crimes, theft, consuming alcohol, or drug-related crimes, have been subjected to corporal punishment by Taliban leaders. Moral crimes encompass the acts of running away from home and extramarital sexual relations. I am taking a closer look at how moral crime has been legally defined to clarify how the reported acts/crimes can be categorized.

I also went to an interesting virtual event held by USIP on Atrocity Prevention in Sudan. Since I am working on the Atrocity Prevention team but have been doing mostly work with the Ukraine context, it was interesting to get a look into atrocity prevention work in the Sudan context. This event was a panel of experts discussing their work in Sudan and the challenges to documentation and accountability. They described the total information blackout that makes their work of documenting the atrocity killings happening deeply difficult and the lengths they go to protect witnesses or victims that come forward with their stories. They also described how deeply important the documentation of the human rights violations and atrocity crimes is to the goals of memorialization and justice/accountability.