Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday signed a controversial bill which provides sweeping amnesty for war crimes committed over more than two decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
Afghan legislators who have been opposing the bill criticised the move.
"We are deeply concerned over the contents of this undemocratic document,” said Shukria Barakzai, an MP and democracy activist whose parliamentary group opposes the amnesty law.
Mir Ahmad Joyenda, another lawmaker, told IRIN that those “MPs opposing the immunity law were explicitly threatened by powerful warlords in the national assembly”.
Noor Akbari, a former Afghan diplomat, said the enacted law is not likely to be in accordance with the country's constitution and will violate some of the international human rights treaties to which Afghanistan is a signatory.
The lower house of the Afghan parliament – dominated by scores of former militia leaders - initiated the war crime immunity bill. The document was then approved by the upper house of the legislature and was sent to the President for approval.
Karzai had initially vowed that he would not grant blanket immunity to war criminals. However, the President was pressured by many former Mujahideen leaders - who have strong influence in Afghanistan’s post-Taliban government – to meet their demands.
On Saturday, Karzai returned his amended version of the proposed bill which was swiftly adopted by the lower house – turning it into law.
“All parties involved in the pre-2002 conflicts are granted legal and judicial immunity,” the bill reads.
The Taliban as well as warlords who have been accused of grave human rights violations are exempt from prosecution for crimes committed before the establishment of the December 2001 Interim Administration in Afghanistan.
The bill – now law – could even provide legal privileges for post-2002 insurgents as well.
“Individuals and groups that still oppose the government militarily could also avail themselves to the privileges of this resolution, provided they give over enmity and respect the constitution of Afghanistan,” the law stipulates.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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