Further prisoners to be hanged to death in Afghanistan
By Sajad - Thu Nov 22 2012, 2:09 pm
This comes as at least 14 prisoners have been hanged to death during the past 2 days which sparked international condemnation with the Amnesty International requesting Afgan government to immediately stop prisoners execution.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had approved the executions on 20 November. This marks the first use of the death penalty in Afghanistan since June 2011.
Mr. Karzai came under international pressure four years ago to impose a moratorium on the death penalty. Except for two other executions in February, he had abided by that moratorium until now. This week’s hangings reasserted his independence as U.S.-led forces prepare to withdraw in 2014. Mr. Karzai must personally sign all death warrants.
Polly Truscott, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme, said:
“It is extremely regrettable that President Karzai has decided to go ahead with these 16 executions. There’s news also of more to come. We oppose the death penalty under any circumstance; it is the ultimate form of cruel and inhuman punishment
“This rush to execute so many prompts the question – why now? In recent years, the Afghan government had avoided executions. Karzai is certainly under some pressure now to demonstrate he can maintain the rule of law in Afghanistan, and advance reconciliation talks with the Taleban. Could these executions be more about political gain than justice?
“The death penalty is deplorable under any circumstance, and even more troubling given the seriously flawed Afghan justice system. Detainees are frequently tortured into confessions then relied upon by a judiciary that has little to no independence. Meanwhile serious human rights violations go unpunished. There is simply no guarantee of a fair trial.”
Concerns over the weakness of Afghanistan’s judicial system are a key reason for many international groups’ opposition to the death penalty here. Observers say Afghan courts heavily rely on confessions under torture, fail to properly assess forensic evidence and could be executing innocent men.