Some interviews with ordinary people in Bamyan province concerning access to information and its outcomes in Afghanistan

During the last year CSHRN organized a broad- wide dialogue concerning access to information draft law which is a very important on going activity of CSHRN. In order to receive the feed back of ordinary people the CSHRN Bamyan office made survey- interviews with some people in the Bazaar of Bamyan city. By: Ms. Taeba Khawari and Mr. Ismail Zaki Mr. Mohammad is one of the unskilled worker in Bamyan city, I asked him in a very simple language about access to information. I explained him what do we mean by access to information and then I looked for his opinion. He explained that access to information plays the role of a light in a dark tunnel; if we do not have this light we are not able to find the exit door easily. For example I have the same problem in my life. I do not know about my future if some body informs me about our government programs or Bamyan city development programs then it is much easier for me to know my role to play. Liaqat Ali is one of the painter and calligrapher of Bamyan city; we were going to ask him the same question. It seems he is more clever and smart, he says information plays an important role for each citizens every where in our country. If we had access to information we never experienced three decades of war in Afghanistan. The problem is we do not know about each other culture, ethnic background and national interest. Lack of information created a gap between different cultures in Afghanistan. That is why we became very aggressive against each others. I can imagine if a person does not have access to information he looks like a blind person who does not know what to…

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Access to information creates conviction

An interview with Mr. Sarwar Jawadi, member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan about access to information importance in the current situation. By Ismail Zaki Mr. Jawadi, thanks you very much for this interview. In your opinion what is the importance of access to information for the Afghan citizens? Answer: Thank you very much for the interviewing me. To my understanding access to information is a recognized human rights issue. The Afghan constitution confirms access to information as a fundamental right to each citizen. If the Afghan people don't have access to information about main programs, policies and plans of the government, then the confidence between citizens and the state breaks down. The luck of confidence between citizens and state badly damages the legitimacy of the Afghan state and creates instability and disorder in the society. Such a bad mechanism may have negative consequences in the filed of political, economic, social and cultural affaires of each citizen in Afghanistan. Question: In your opinion how does access to information affect the policy making procedures of the Afghan government? Answer: Look, when the information is provided to citizens it creates transparent communication of population with the government, so the civil society, media, lawyers and researchers can play an important role to convey the message of people to the government. I believe in such a situation the government can make proper and realistic policies. Question: As you said access to information is one of the fundamental rights of citizens recognized by the Afghan constitution. What did the Afghan National Assembly do concerning access to information promotion? Answer: According to the law the Afghan parliament can do two things; the first one is to advocate for access to information. In this regard we could approve the media law as a positive tool…

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Without freedom of expression and freedom of media, democracy does not have any meaning!

A discussion about access to information with Mr. Fayaz Mehrayeen the political and social analyst. Mr. Mehrayeen is the senior advisor of Governor of Balkh province. He is the author of many articles in the fields of political and social issues. Mr. Mehrayeen delivers constantly lectures and presentations to the academic and civil society groups. By: Farkhonda Arezo Aabi, Journalist and human rights activist in Mazar e Sharif Question: Mr. Mehrayeen! In your point of view what is access to information and what kind of situation does it need? Answer: In my point of view access to information creates transparent, free and fluent relationship between state and citizens. Access to information means access of citizens to state resources, documents and information that foster the culture of transparency and accountability in the government structure. Question: What are the proper policies for institutionalizing of access to information? Answer: The public could have access to the accurate information while the reporters and journalists of Medias and other relevant organizations enjoy from the rights of access to information because they are delivering the information to public. To institutionalize this right firstly there is a need for a law in the country level, a law which contain and code this right and consequently all citizens and people particularly who are in the key positions of the government must be aware from this law. and they must understand clearly their obligations that the law binds them to not conceal information from media and public, this is the first step toward institutionalization of this right. Secondly depends to joint work of media and civil society efficient and sufficient public awareness programs to consolidate and aware the public to defend from their right which is having access to transparent information firstly and consequently do not allow…

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Access to information essential element of citizenship

Interview with Mr. Abdul Hamid Safuwad, professor of the journalist faculty at Balkh University By Manocher Ibrahimi Qestion 1: Mr. Safuwat, first of all I would like to thank you for this opportunity. My first question is: what is the importance of access to information in Afghanistan today? Reply: I would like to thank CSHRN for this interview. I think access to information is a vital issue for the current Afghanistan. The participation of people in decisions taken by the government is very limited due to a lack of access to information by citizens. I think information should be accessible for all Afghans who are doing their best for establishing a democratic society. Otherwise, we are going to establish a centralized government, where citizens have only limited access to information. Such a situation increases corruption and injustice. Question 2: Some people call access to information the oxygen for democracy. Do you agree with that? Is access to information an important principle for democracy? Answer: Access to information is one of the main elements of democracy because access to information provides facilities for choosing the direction of development. Any obstacle regarding this choice will badly damage the legitimacy of power in Afghanistan. I think, legitimacy is an important element for any democracy. There are also a lot of national and international elements that should be clear for Afghans in order for them to understand the role of national and international actors in Afghanistan. In a nutshell, access to information gives citizens the capacity to understand the state, the international community and their own role in the current situation. Question 3: Why is access to information called oxygen for a democratic environment? Answer: I believe that access to information is the right to participate within the political structure in the…

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All Afghan Women Union Support Access to Information Program of CSHRN

By Frozan Arezo CSHRN home page asked Ms. Suraia Perlika the chair person of All Afghan Women Union (AAWU) and women's rights activist to share her ideas about access to information program in Afghanistan. Question : First of all on behalf of CSHRN I would like to thanks you for the interview. My first question is why information plays an important role for our world today? Answer: Today our world is a world of information. Information paves the way of development in the social economic and political fields. Information facilitates the citizens to make right decisions. I believe information plays an important role in democratization in our societies in all over the world. Information supports us to make rights choices in the right time. Question: What do you think about access to information in Afghanistan , do you think that access to information is an important agenda for current developments in Afghanistan? Answer: I believe that access to information is not only a need for Afghan society, but it is an important element for democratization for both Afghanistan and international community who are involved in Afghanistan. During the presidential and parliamentarian elections in Afghanistan we experienced a lot of shortages and difficulties. One of the main reasons of difficulties was the luck of information; the Afghan citizen did not have access to information about the mechanisms, agendas and programs of the candidates and the election commissions. The Afghan people went to the electoral pools without having proper information. This is one of the important examples of consequence of lack of access to information in Afghanistan. We have also a lot of examples on access to information importance in the Afghan society. I think access to information makes citizens aware of their role and obligation in the society. Question:…

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Male-ruled nominated cabinet of Afghanistan , undermines the role of women in the political structure

Interview with Ms. Roshan Sirran, Member of CSHRN Board and Head of Training of Human Rights Association for Afghan Women By: Frozan Arezo Question: What do you think about the role of women in the new cabinet of Afghanistan? Answer: I believe the role of women in the new cabinet is very passive. When I looked through the list of new nominate ministers I got upset and I asked my self a question; are the Afghan women really so weak not to manage or not to lead the ministries in the Afghan government. There are a lot of people who asked themselves the same question. I think the answer is clear. There are a lot of capable women in the Afghan society. During the past 8 years we have been witnessed the growth of many capable Afghan women. These women work in the political, social, economic and cultural fields. However they don't get the possibility to reach political and managerial position in the government. Question: According to you the Afghan women have the capacity of management; however they do not get the chance to be the ministers. What are the reasons for this problem? Answer: If we look to the modern history of Afghanistan after independence we can see a lot of active women who could lead and manage deferent programs in the state structure. I believe, the Afghan women can do it today. We have a lot of distinguished women who can mange and lead the ministries such as Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health Care, Ministry of High Education, Ministry of Parliament affaire and many other areas, but the lack of commitment creates barriers for such a goal. Question: If you believe that the society is ready to accept women leadership and management then what are…

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Access to Information key to Accountability in Afghanistan

From the website of The Danish Institute for Human Rights DIHR's Afghan partner the Civil Society and Human Rights Network is pushing for new legislation to ensure access to information for the Afghan people. Malek Sitez, DIHR's Afghan expert, argues that such access is a precondition for creating an accountable state in Afghanistan. By Brendan Sweeney Senior Advisor and Programme Manager at DIHR, Malek Sitez, who is responsible for DIHR projects in Afghanistan, has been a vocal critic of developments in this divided country. In the following interview, he explains why the Institute's main partner in Afghanistan, the Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN), is pushing for the introduction of new legislation to regulate ordinary people's access to information. Q: Why is access to information essential for human rights? A: Access to information means that citizens have the right to get information concerning civil, political, economic, social and cultural matters from the public administration. It is a principle of good governance that government information - involving the education or health sector, state expenditure, election procedures, and anti-corruption measures - is made available to ordinary people. Some exceptions can be made to this principle such as issues regarding national security or confidential data about individuals, but these exemptions should be as few as possible. Access to information also enables people to directly confront and pressurize the state to make it more transparent and accountable, and to reduce corruption. The state will then be in a better position to fulfill its role and to respect the rights of all the people living under its jurisdiction. That is why access to information is so important for strengthening human rights culture, endorsing democracy and encouraging a culture which fosters the rule of law in society. Worldwide, there is increasing recognition of…

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Interview with the CSHRN regional coordinators

Written by Frozan Darwish On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10. December 2008, the officer of the CSRHN resource center, Mrs. Frozan Darwish, invited the regional coordinators of CSHRN to a roundtable discussion. The aim of this round table was to discuss together about the human rights situation in the different regions and the activities carried out by CSHRN. Interview with the regional coordinator of the east Following is the part of the interview with the coordinator of the eastern region. Doctor Niamatullah Hamdard, the CSRHN coordinator in the eastern region and a very active personality in the fields of human rights, was one of the participants. Doctor Hamdard has been working since seven years for civil society and since two years he is part of the staff of the network. He has a lot of experience in working with civil society and he enjoyed being involved in the setting up of CSHRN. He is married and lives with his family in the beautiful city of Nangarhar, where he also works. F. Darwish: Doctor Hamdard, you are a respected personality in Nangarhar province. In the recent interview with a local television, however, you criticized the role of the government and you also pointed out the weak position of civil society. Is this correct? Dr. Hamdard: Yes, I had an interview with lamar television in Kabul on the 14. October 2008 and I wanted to transmit the difficulties of the people living in the eastern region, so that it would be heard by the persons working with the government and that the government, who is responsible for the security of the population, would take the necessary measures. Before CSHRN started to work in the eastern region, the population as well…

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“I learned in CSRHN not only human rights skills but I also learnt how to exercise them”

Translation of an interview per skype with Azaryuon Matin, the coordinator of the transitional justice program in Afghanistan. By Gul Bashra Ahmad.  Question: You worked for a long time for human rights in Afghanistan. It seems that human rights are a broad phenomena under the blue sky. Before, you used to work for CSHRN, at present you work for an international organization. How do you explain that human rights are a world wide phenomena? Azaryuon Matin: While writing the answers to your questions, I sit in New York in a hotel far from the city centre. Besides me, there are around one hundred colleagues from all around the world, who stay equally in this hotel. They are here for the purpose of education in human rights, but all have different colors, races, languages, religions, and places of origins. Nevertheless, one thing brings all of them together and these are human rights. They came here to learn, and then they go back and implement human rights. This shows the universality of human rights. Question: Please tell us about your lessons learnt and experiences gained from CSHRN and tell us why you decided to start to work for the International Centre on Transitional Justice? Azaryuon Matin: I have worked with CSHRN since its establishment, and even before that. In 2004, when CSRHN was founded, I was appointed as a coordinator and I worked in this function until 2008.The experiences and the lessons I learnt regarding formal as well as informal knowledge I will never forget in my life. I would like to be honest and straight forward and tell you that the network has been the main source for developing my technical knowledge as well as my knowledge regarding implementation. I learned in CSRHN not only human rights skills but…

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