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Stop executions, HRW tells Karzai

22 November, 2012

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KABUL: A US-based international human rights organisation on Wednesday asked the Afghan government to end its sudden surge of executions and institute a moratorium on capital punishment.

On Tuesday, the Attorney General Office (AGO) said eight people had been hanged inside a high-security jail in Kabul in compliance with President Hamid Karzai's decree. Over the past four years, only two people were reportedly executed.

Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari told Pajhwok Afghan News the individuals, convicted of armed robberies were hanged in the Russian-built Pul-i-Charkhi Prison on the eastern outskirts of the capital.

Reacting to the executions, Human Rights Watch said the weakness of the Afghan legal system and the routine failure of courts to meet international fair trial standards made the use of the death penalty especially troubling in the country.

HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams said: “The Afghan government's near total moratorium on the death penalty in recent years was a major departure from Taliban rule.”

He called the eight hangings in a single day a “terrible step backwards” for Afghanistan and President Karzai to stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium.

A single execution was carried out in 2004, followed by a three-year unofficial moratorium that ended in 2007 when a firing squad shot dead 15 people at the Pul-i-Charkhi prison.

Further executions took place in 2008, sparking condemnation from the United Nations and the European Union.

Since then, the government has not carried out the death penalty, with the exception of the execution in June 2011 of two men convicted of participating in a February 2011 attack on a bank in Jalalabad.

Afghanistan's justice system heavily relied on confessions, including some obtained through torture, the group said, adding the independence and impartiality of judges was often undermined, especially in high-profile cases.

End.

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