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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing notes on Afghanistan

26 September 2014

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Date: 26 September 2014
Location: Geneva
Subject: Afghanistan


We are disappointed that the Supreme Court of Afghanistan this week affirmed the death sentences given to five people and sentenced one additional person to death on charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and gang rape in a recent case in Paghman, in Kabul province. While this was a horrible crime, we have been concerned about the lack of due process and the failure to comply with national and international fair trial standards in the proceedings. This risks denying proper justice to both the victims and the accused, and also undermines efforts to strengthen the rule of law and administration of justice in Afghanistan.

The High Commissioner opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, including for such heinous crimes, and especially when fair trial safeguards have not been met. At a high-level meeting on the death penalty in New York yesterday, High Commissioner Zeid stressed that: "No judiciary, anywhere in the world, is so robust that it can guarantee that innocent life will not be taken, and there is an alarming body of evidence to indicate that even well-functioning legal systems have sentenced to death men and women who were subsequently proven innocent. This is intolerable."

We urge both Afghanistan’s outgoing and incoming Presidents not to implement the death penalty in this case and to refer the case back to courts given the due process concerns. We encourage the Government of Afghanistan to resume a moratorium on executions pending full abolition of the death penalty.


For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 /[email protected]) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / [email protected])

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