Sayed Abdul Qader Rahimi

Role: Acting Executive Director at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

Active in Country: Afghanistan

DTP Alumnus: 18th Annual Human Rights and Peoples' Diplomacy Training program, Australia 2008

Rahimi attended DTP’s 18th Annual Human Rights and Peoples’ Diplomacy Training program in Sydney, Australia in November 2008, when he was working as National Program's Manager with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

 

“The DTP program was the first time that I was confronting global human rights issues such as rights of Indigenous people and their rights and values as citizens while in my country we did not have such human rights problem and even was not aware of such problem in the world. Human rights and globalization, human rights and development, are other issues that the program introduced to me and to think about.”

 

While the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission had been established in 2002, at the time the subject of human rights was still quite new to the Afghani people, particularly in the very conservative society under the rule of the Taliban. Forced and child marriages were common practices in communities and the consequences were self-immolation of women and young women fleeing homes in which they were forcibly engaged to old men, particularly in the west of Afghanistan.

 

It was in this such environment that Rahimi and others working at the Commission strived for human rights values. He needed to be aware of human rights practices and situations in other countries and how they tackled their problems and overcame such inhuman situations. The DTP program provided him with this.

 

After returning from the DTP course Rahimi was promoted to the Commission’s regional manager for the west of Afghanistan. This position covered four western provinces. One of the issues which he worked on was the uncovering of child trafficking from Afghanistan into Iran, an issue long ignored in the country. By conducting close monitoring at the border and the Commission’s reporting on the issue, the Afghani government took action, banning child trafficking.

 

“The responsibilities of government for reporting the human rights situation and their actions in their territories had been areas which were discussed in the DTP program and opened new windows to look to the responsibilities of the states towards their obligations on human rights treaties.”

 

There have been many cases of violations against women recorded by the Human Rights Commission. Rahimi believes the government has started to take its responsibilities in regard to human rights treaties seriously.

 

The Afghanistan Government has ratified a law to combat violence against women, and has also worked to promote gender mainstreaming in all government institutions. Rahimi’s office monitored the situation. As a result, there are currently more girls schools and more job opportunities for women in the government compared to the past. A Ministry of Women’s Affairs was established by the Government and the Family Court and Attorney’s Office has banned violations against women.

 

“Since I participated in the DTP program, I was able to use the media for human rights. Frequently I was involved with the media and had many interviews on different issues of human rights. Moreover, I conducted educational workshops and meetings to journalists and also provided them with human rights materials such as copies of human rights conventions and other human rights instruments.”

 

Rahimi founded the association of Men Supporting Women. All the members are men who believe in and support women rights. One of the conditions of membership of this association is that the person should not have a second wife and should not be willing to have a second wife – which is still legal in Afghanistan.

 

In the latter half of 2019, Rahimi has been Acting Executive Director of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and has been called on to help other national human rights institutions:

 

“My understanding and knowledge on human rights, which goes back to the understanding which I got on the DTP course, provided the opportunity for me to be part of capacity assessments of the Sri-Lanka Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Philippines.”

 

Rahimi is also a writer, largely writing satires. He has three books printed and two other books in progress. The subject of his stories is mostly human rights issues.

 

 

Profile written January 2020.