GENEVA (10 May 2016) – Two United Nations human rights experts today condemned the execution of six alleged members of illegal armed groups in Afghanistan for “serious crimes and crimes against civilians,” despite the absence of fair trial guarantees and the continued practice of torture to obtain confessions.
The six executions, reportedly carried out by hanging on 8 May in the Pol-e Charkhi prison in Kabul, were the first to take place in Afghanistan since February 2015, breaking the ‘unofficial moratorium’ implemented by the Government. The Afghan authorities announced that they had conducted ‘a full review’ ensuring that the judicial procedures leading to the death sentences complied with Afghanistan’s human rights obligations, but did not disclose any detail on the review.
Following a Taliban attack on 19 April 2016 that caused the death of 58 civilians and injured another 352, the President of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, announced that he would not pardon persons sentenced to death for attacks against civilians and the armed forces.
“No evidence of the nature of the trial or the review is available. Where the death penalty is imposed in a trial which does not comply with the highest standards of fairness, that in itself constitutes a violation of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a party.”, said the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns.
For the human rights expert, “the fact that the executions have apparently been carried out in retaliation for the tragic attack on 19 April, for which the persons executed were not responsible, is also a sign of their arbitrariness.”
“It is furthermore of great concern that there appears to be a practice of torture and ill-treatment to elicit confessions of suspects, in particular for national security cases”, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan Méndez, added.
The UN human rights experts share the concern of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan that the executions will not contribute to peace in Afghanistan, and strongly urge the Government of Afghanistan to return to a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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Summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
UN Human Rights, Country Page – Afghanistan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/AFIndex.aspx
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