Govt asked to repeal amnesty law
The National Stability and Reconciliation Law, which was passed by the parliament in 2007, prevents prosecution of individuals responsible for flagrant human rights abuses in preceding decades.
The amnesty law states that all those who were engaged in armed conflict before the formation of the interim administration in December 2001 will "enjoy all their legal rights and shall not be prosecuted."
It says that those engaged in current hostilities will be granted immunity if they agree to reconciliation with the government. Despite assurances not to sign the law, President Karzai enacted it in December 2008.
Since 2009, a number of civil society groups have launched a campaign each year to seek the implementation of transitional justice.
The Transitional Justice Coordination Group, representing 34 civil society organisations, held a gathering in Kabul on Wednesday. Families of war victims were also present. They called for the law to be repealed.
Mohammad Rahim Jame, who represents Afghanistan Constitutional Rights group, said the joint campaign was aimed at compensating the victims’ kin and mounting pressure on the government to enforce transitional justice.
He said civil society groups organised week-long gatherings, protests and other activities each year to remind the government of its promises on transitional justice.
Another activist, Ajmal Balochzada, said the government had not been able so far to take practical steps for the implementation of transitional justice. “We should vote for candidates who can implement transitional justice,” he suggested.
A member of a victim family, Najiba Obani, told Pajhwok Afghan News they demanded the implementation of transitional justice and trial of those responsible for killing innocent people.
She urged the government to assist families of victims, who should not be ignored while making peace with the rebels.
The groups issued a statement that warned if war victims were ignored in the peace process, the move would pave the ground for future right abuses and crimes against humanity.
The statement called on the international community not to support a peace drive that excluded victims of war crimes.
It called for the amnesty law to be repealed, asking the government to investigate right abuses through the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and bring to justice the perpetrators.
For achieving peace and implementing transitional justice, the government should create an independent commission comprising human rights experts, activists, civil society representatives and religious scholars, the statement said.
The statement asked the AIHRC to release its report on war criminals as soon as possible. But AIHRC spokesman Rafiullah Baidar told Pajhwok Afghan News the report had not been finalised, pending court rulings in cases against some of the accused.
“In the report, there are names of people who have been accused of war crimes. We cannot release the report until a court decision is delivered against them,” he explained.
Baidar also sought government’s help in preparing and publishing the AIHRC’s report detailing war crimes committed over the past three decades.
In their statement, the civil society groups said they should float suggestions to the government on how to implement transition justice along with criticism.
The statement said foreign troops in Afghanistan should exercise utmost care in preventing civilian casualties during their operations against militants.
It also called on armed opposition groups to avoid carrying out attacks in residential areas, where civilians could suffer casualties.
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