AFGHANISTAN: More executions scheduled amid growing calls for death penalty moratorium
KABUL, 17 October 2007 (IRIN) - Afghan President
Hamid Karzai is expected to sign in the near future the death warrants of about
30 prisoners indicted for various crimes by the country's Supreme Court, Abdul
Rasheed Rashid, a member of the Supreme Court Council, told IRIN in the Afghan
capital, Kabul, on 17 October.
The prisoners in question, all male, have
been sentenced to death for homicide, armed robbery and other crimes by the
Supreme Court, Rashid said, adding that the executions would be carried out by
firing squad in the eastern outskirts of Kabul once President Karzai gives his
An aide of President Karzai, who preferred anonymity, said
Karzai was currently reviewing the Supreme Court's rulings "one-by-one".
A three-year informal moratorium on capital punishment ended on 7
October when 15 prisoners - found guilty of murder, rape and armed attacks on
civilians and government officials - were reportedly executed by firing squad
outside a prison in Kabul.
The executions, however, have sparked
"I am deeply troubled by this sudden resort
to executions, after three years of refraining from carrying out the death
penalty… the circumstances of the executions may constitute a breach of
Afghanistan's obligations under international law," read a statement issued by
Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, on 9 October.
The European Union (EU) has expressed its concern at the weak state of
the Afghan judicial system and the lack of procedural guarantees for a fair
trial in the cases of those executed on 7 October.
these circumstances are contrary to internationally recognised human rights'
norms and neglect the dignity and worth of the human person," the EU said in a
statement on 11 October.
Judicial system in the
After decades of unrelenting armed conflict and
turmoil, Afghanistan is still in the process of building up its judicial
institutions, with international assistance.
At an international conference
on the rule of law in Afghanistan on 3 July 2007, Karzai's government vowed to reform, strengthen and improve
the justice system.
that, given the current circumstances in Afghanistan, the judiciary is
ill-suited to ensuring that all standard judicial requirements are met,
especially in cases of capital punishment.
The Afghanistan Independent
Human Rights Commission, the UN and many international rights' watchdogs have
called on the Afghan government to reinstate the moratorium on capital
In the meantime, however, Afghan officials have given no
indication that the government is about to suspend capital punishment:
Executions would be a good lesson "for those who are committing crimes as
murder, kidnapping, adultery and rape," said Humayun Hamidzada, Karzai's
Prisoners on strike
inmates at the Pul-e Charkhi prison in eastern Kabul have gone on strike for
several days in protest at possible future executions, several prisoners told
IRIN on the phone.
"We want the government to stop executions," said one
prisoner who cannot be named for security reasons.
The prisoners have
locked some internal gates and defied orders inside the prison, officials at
Pul-e Charkhi prison said.
The above article comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2007
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