Truth Seeking and the Role of Forensic Science: Conference in Kabul, October 12-14
Participants are anticipated to come from the different provinces in Afghanistan with a participation of approximately 100 persons representing civil society, governmental and other local and regional authorities. (See pdfs of the agenda and participant bios in English and Dari, linked at the end of this post.)
The findings and recommendations of the workshops will be published in Dari and English and will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders including the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Culture and Information, and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghan civil society and international development partners.
As Stefan Schmitt, Director of PHR’s International Forensics Program, explained during his opening remarks to the conference:
Afghanistan is a nation traumatized by violence. The truth of what has happened to the people of Afghanistan often remains hidden. Revealing the truth is essential to stopping the endless cycle of violence and addressing the pain each and every Afghan suffers. In many other countries engulfed in histories of violence and oppression — Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, Yugoslavia, and South Africa, to name a few — we have seen that uncovering the painful past and facing it honestly as a community is the only way to provide a hopeful future, after the time of violence.
Every family has the right to know what happened to their loved ones. It is the duty of every government to work towards this. Not only is it the ethical responsibility of those who represent the people, but it is rooted in international law.
We are here today, as forensic scientists, human rights advocates, representatives of the Afghan legal system, and the Afghan law enforcement community to identify the challenges and possible ways to negotiate a way forward to a more peaceful society. Each one of us has chosen a professional path in documenting truth and the fact that we are seated here together is in and of itself a recognition that we need to work together.