Amnesty for Taliban against international law: HRW

New York: The Afghan government should not grant Taliban representatives amnesty from prosecution for serious crimes as part of talks with the insurgent group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday.

Last week, the Pakistani government released nine imprisoned Taliban officials after the Afghan High Peace Council, led by Salahuddin Rabbani, requested their release during a visit to Pakistan.

More of the estimated 50 Taliban members in prison in Pakistan are expected to be released at the council’s request in the future.

HRW Asia director, Brad Adams said, “Future government talks with the Taliban should not hinge upon denying justice to victims of war crimes and other abuses.”

“Afghanistan’s civilians should not be forced to choose between justice and peace.”

“The High Peace Council’s call for immunity shows the dire predictions about the amnesty law coming true,” Adams said. “Amnesty for war crimes does not need to be, and should not be, a precondition for talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.”

In 2007 a coalition of powerful warlords and their supporters in the Afghan parliament were able to pass the National Stability and Reconciliation Law. The law states that all those who were engaged in armed conflict before the formation of the Interim Administration in Afghanistan in December 2001 shall “enjoy all their legal rights and shall not be prosecuted.”

It provides that those engaged in current hostilities will be granted immunity if they agree to reconciliation with the government, effectively providing amnesty for future crimes.

“Why is the High Peace Council rushing to offer amnesty to Taliban officials when even the Taliban’s own code of conduct and statements acknowledge that targeting civilians is illegal?” Adams said. “The High Peace Council cannot ignore the demands of justice.”

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