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    Security and Crime

    Kabul’s unconcern over executions slated

    KABUL (PAN): The government must seek evidence from Tehran of the crimes allegedly committed by thousands of Afghans on death row in the neighbouring country, analysts suggested on Thursday.

    Most of Afghans sentenced to death in Iran were arrested on drug smuggling charges. A delegation of lawmakers that returned from Iran recently claimed thousands of Afghans were imprisoned in Iran, with more than half awaiting executions.

    Iranian authorities deny that figure. The announcement caused uproar in the country as both houses of parliament debated the issue and sought a way to secure the return of prisoners.

    Last week, President Hamid Karzai tasked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enter talks with Iranian authorities over the issue. Due to economic hardships and insecurity, many Afghans try to go to Iran, where nearly a million of them have been documented as refugees.

    Speaking at this week's radio and television programme, "Your Voice," some political analysts put at 2,000 the number of Afghans on death row in Iran, citing information from the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and civil society groups.

    The round table, a joint initiative of the Killid Media Group and its partners -- Pajhwok Afghan News and Saba Media Organistaion, was attended by political experts Mian Gul Wasiq, Kamal Sadat and AIHRC official Mohammad Munir Khashi.

    Sadat came hard on the government and international human rights groups for refusing to break their silence over the continued executions of Afghan nationals. He said the government had no knowledge why the Afghans were being put to death.

    Sadat urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask authorities in Iran what crimes the Afghans had committed and if they had access to defence lawyers and how much time they had spent in jail before being executed.

    Khashi said Iran had failed to come up with fair trials for Afghans in its custody, insisting his organisation had conveyed its concerns over the issue to the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the suggestion that it should be resolved through diplomatic channels.

    In order to ensure a fair trial for Afghans in Iranian courts, the rights official said Iran should share cases of those sentenced to death with Afghan officials. He added Iran had not yet given any chance to Afghan officials to meet with the inmates, who he claimed had complained of unfair trials.

    Wasiq was of the view that efforts by the Afghan government with regard to preventing the executions had failed to yield any results. He said the government should be held equally responsible for the deaths of Afghans in Iran due to its nonchalant attitude.

    ma/mud