UN Afghanistan rights body urges repeal of amnesty law

[JURIST] The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] human rights office on Thursday called on the government to repeal [UN News Centre report] the controversial National Stability and Reconciliation Law [RFE/RL backgrounder], which provides amnesty for war crimes and human rights violations committed before December 2001. A representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Afghanistan said at a press conference [transcript]:


The lack of political commitment to the justice agenda is seen by the High Commissioner as an urgent concern exemplified by the Amnesty Law; it was gazetted in December 2008 but it only came to light at the end of last year. This Law relieves Afghan authorities of their obligation to investigate and prosecute, on their own initiative, those allegedly responsible for gross violations of human rights. It contravenes Afghanistan's obligations under international law and it green-lights impunity and continued human rights violations. It ignores the grievances of victims and denies them access to justice. This Law also sends the wrong message to victims who have repeatedly called for justice and the removal of human rights violators from public office.

The call for repeal comes the day after the annual report [text, PDF] of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Afghanistan was presented in Geneva to the Human Rights Council.

Earlier this month, the Afghanistan Office of the President confirmed for the first time [JURIST report] that the law had been enacted by a two-thirds passage in the Parliament, which, under the constitution, does not require the president's signature. Afghanistan's Parliament approved the controversial law in 2007, but international human rights groups only became aware of the law when it was published in Afghanistan's latest official gazette. A week before the confirmation by the Office of the President, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the repeal [JURIST report] of the law. HRW called the law an "absolute disgrace" and "a slap in the face to all the Afghans who suffered for years and years of war crimes and warlordism."

 

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