Thu December 18, 2014
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Washington for fair trials of prisoners in Afghanistan


WASHINGTON: The Obama administration on Wednesday called for transparent and fair trials for prisoners, as Afghanistan executed 14 prisoners over the past two days.

Calling the executions an internal matter of Afghanistan, a senior administration official said that the US expected Kabul would meets its international obligations in this regard.

“Decisions regarding the sentencing of Afghan citizens are obviously a matter for the Afghan courts and ruling in accordance with Afghan law as well as, obviously, Afghanistan’s international obligations,” the State Department spokesman said.

Mark Toner told reporters during an off-camera news conference: “We, of course, urge the government of Afghanistan to uphold its international human rights obligations, including the protection of due process and fair trial in courts of law.”

The spokesman added: “I think we’re more concerned with the fact that – whether the process was transparent, fair and consistent with international norms.”

Asked if he was satisfied with the process, Toner said: “Those are the kinds of questions that we ask when we look at these things. But, obviously, these were decisions carried out by Afghan courts consistent with their own legal process.”

In Kabul, the Office of Administrative Affairs said the convicts planned terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in the capital, Faryab and Ghazni provinces.

Those put to death were identified as Mullah Ramazan, Abdul Ali, Mohammad Arif, Mohammad Haidar, Mutawakil and Aziz Ahmad. Arif was accused of killing two UN workers.

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 asked President Karzai to stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium.

But Cabinet Secretariat spokesman Rafi Firdous defended the action as legal: "By applying this penalty, the rule of law is implemented. This is a lesson to be learned.”

Afghanistan's Independent Human Right Commission official Hussain Ali Moin said although the capital punishment was in line with the country’s constitution, there were concerns about the fairness of trials.

The Taliban urged the United Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to mount pressure on the Karzai administration to stop the executions.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Pajhwok Afghan News they had received information that some insurgents were among those hanged. “They were prisoners of war, not criminals. Executing war prisoners is against all human rights.” --(PAN)


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