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Govt urged to reject indefinite detention without trial

 AT-KABUL: Human Rights Watch urged the Afghan government to reject a new law that permits indefinite detention of security suspects without trial.

An amendment to the criminal procedure code, imposed by presidential decree, allows Afghan authorities to detain for a renewable one-year period anyone suspected of crimes against internal or external security or believed likely to commit such a crime.

Patricia Gossman, senior Afghanistan researcher at the Human Rights Watch, said:  “Given President Ashraf Ghani’s sharp criticisms of United States practices at Guantanamo, it is incomprehensible why he would want to bring indefinite detention without trial to Afghanistan. Afghanistan needs to take steps to address terrorism and protect public safety, but not by denying Afghans the right to a fair trial.” She voiced her concerns that Afghanistan’s progress on rule of law reform will take a big step backward if this new counterterrorism decree is kept in its present form. Gossman said that abusive measures such as indefinite detention and denying suspects’ access to lawyers have no place in Afghan law, even to confront a dangerous enemy.

A statement issued by the Human Rights Watch said that the judicial committee of the Wolesi Jirga has been considering the presidential decree since early October. Parliament has the power to veto the decree; if it does nothing, the decree remains law. The Judicial Committee may call for a hearing on the decree and invite legal experts to testify before a decision to reject or amend it.

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