Afghans have endured injustice for decades. Victims languish in an environment where abuses are committed with impunity, fueling resentment and the country’s conflict itself.
Clyde Collins Snow, a pioneering forensic scientist who developed the field of investigation of individual and mass graves to gather evidence of human rights violations, died on May 16, 2014 at the age of 86. He mentored dozens of forensic scientists and consulted with Physicians for Human Rights on critical projects including exhumation of graves in Iraqi Kurdistan and in the former Yugoslavia.
With the backing of PHR, the Afghanistan Forensic Science Organization (AFSO) was officially launched in Kabul on March 7, 2012. The AFSO was created by eighteen participants of PHR’s 2010 forensic training program in Afghanistan, and funded through PHR’s International Forensic Program.
Recently the Obama Administration unveiled landmark legislation which has the potential to strengthen how the US deals with the prevention of mass atrocities and serious human rights violations. The inter-agency Atrocities Prevention Board (PSD-10) aims to close existing gaps in US law and provide new economic, diplomatic, and political deterrents to ensure that the US responds swiftly and unequivocally to all manner of human rights violators.
Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR's International Forensic Program, writing from Kabul, where I'm working with local partners to host a conference on truth seeking and the role of forensic science. Against a news cycle dominated with charges of corruption and threats of instability, I want to share news of a different sort from Afghanistan