Update from Afghanistan’s Parliament
Women’s Rights, Rigorous Oversight of GIRoA, Deteriorating Security, Peace Process
Parliament reconvened from summer recess this week as Speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani opened the session with an impassioned speech urging MP’s to redouble efforts to hold GIRoA accountable for its shortcomings in providing security, misusing COVID-19 relief funds, creating and arming extrajudicial citizen militias and for its repeated attempts to sidestep Parliament’s authority throughout the peace process, including seeking Parliamentary confirmation of the members of the High Peace Council. Speaker Rahmani reaffirmed Parliament’s role as the voice of all Afghan people in the Government and vowed to exercise his constitutional authority to the fullest extent to prevent GIRoA from unilaterally acting without Parliamentary approval on issues of national importance, including the approval of any future peace agreement.
Below is a summary of activities undertaken by two important Parliamentary Commissions during this past session.
Human Rights, Civil Society and Women’s Affairs Commission (HRCWA)
Over the past several months, under the leadership of HRCWA Chairwoman Naheed Farid, the Commission has led a national effort to raise awareness about the threat the Taliban poses to Human Rights and Women’s Rights in the peace process. The commission spearheaded a successful initiative to have mother’s names included on the National Identification Cards issued to all Afghan Citizens, and held a series of hearings pressing GIRoA to promote more favorable policies for women and Children. These activities include:
Hearing to question the Acting Women’s Affairs Minister about elevating the ministry from a policy-making organization to an operational institution that directly serves women and children, reviewing the laws and regulations that protect women’s and children’s rights, requesting a list of all female staff and their positions at each ministry, the lack of shelters for women at the provincial level, efforts to recruit more women as governors, deputy governors and mayors.
Hearing to question the Presidential Spokesperson about steps to improve the working relationship between the legislative and executive branches and raise the level of female participation in government.
Meeting with the Empowerment Center for Women (ECW) from Samangan and Kunduz provinces to discuss oversight mechanisms and implementation of the Elimination of Street Abuse Law at the provincial level to prevent girls from leaving or being forced out of high school prior to graduation.
Hearing to question the Commercial Deputy of Breshna (Electricity and Power
Administration) about implementing a plan to reduce the price of electricity for female entrepreneurs who have been impacted by the quarantine.
Meeting between female MPs and civil society organizations to promote the inclusion of mother’s names on National Identification Cards.
Meeting with the female National Advocacy Groups from Herat, Badghis, Farah, Kandahar, Paktika, Daikundi and Bamiyan provinces about raising the level of meaningful female participation in society. The attendees identified several immediate policies and programs to be pursued by the commission in the coming months including the need for female restrooms in government offices, extending maternity leave for working women, providing a transportation subsidy for working women, providing access to universal kindergarten for working
women, capacity building programs for working women, and the need for women leaders in local committees that seek to end violence against women.
Meeting with GIRoA’s Director of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service
Commission to discuss steps that can be taken to increase the level of women participation in decision making and management positions at GIRoA.
Meeting with the head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance to pursue a policy to recruit women as the first deputy governors in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
Meeting with the Secretary of the President to discuss the establishment of a National Women’s Council.
Celebration of the new law to include mother’s names on the National Identification Cards of all Afghan citizens.
Over the past several months, under the leadership of Defense Commission Chairman Mir Haider Afzaly, the Commission has continued its rigorous oversight of the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Leadership and investigations into corruption and misuse of U.S. and Afghan taxpayer provided funds. Numerous hearings were held to question ANDSF leadership about their ineffectiveness in curbing violent attacks by the Taliban and other insurgent groups, as well as criminal gangs. The Commission held the following hearings:
Hearing to question the Acting Defense Minister, MOD Chief of Intelligence and the Deputy for the Department of Cadre and Personnel at the MOD about the overall security situation in the country, the increase in violent attacks since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban Peace deal, operational planning and recruitment, and the civilian-military rotation program at the defense ministry.
Hearing to question the Director of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at the Defense Ministry, Director of the National Procurement Authority, Director of the Afghan National Oil & Gas Company and the Legal Advisor to the Department of Commerce about the Commission's findings that fuel supply shortages are prevalent at MOD facilities throughout the country.
Joint hearing with the Interior Security Commission to question the Acting Minister of Interior, National Security Directorate members, and the Army Chief of Staff about the deteriorating security situation in Kabul, Nangarhar and Ghazni.
Hearing to question the Director of Health Issues at the MOD about the impacts of COVID-19 on the MOD and steps being taken to contain the spread of the virus.
Hearing to question the Director of Security Issues at MOI and Chief of Intelligence at MOD about the plans for prisoner exchanges with the Taliban to recover security and defense forces held captive.
Hearing to question the Deputy Director of Cadre and Personnel at the MOD and the Director of Human Resources at the MOD about challenges with the civilian recruitment process and the combat zone rotation program in the Army.
Hearing to question the Army Chief of Staff and the MOD Director of Operations about MOD’s ineffectiveness at improving the security situation across the country.
Hearing to question the MOD Chief of Staff, MOD Director for Security Issues and Assistant to the Director of Provincial Security Issues about the deteriorating security situation in Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Takhaar and Baghlan provinces.