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UN, Rights Watchdog Decry Wave Of Afghan Executions


The United Nations' human rights body has decried Afghanistan's decision to execute 14 prisoners over a two-day span this week.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on November 22 voiced "serious concern" over the execution of the 14 death row inmates at a prison outside Kabul on 20 and 21 November.

She said that under Afghanistan’s international obligations, capital punishment "must be reserved for the most serious crimes and only applied after the most rigorous judicial process.”

Pillay also noted that "shortcomings in the Afghan judicial procedure have raised serious questions about such cases.”

On November 21, London-based rights group Amnesty International also expressed regret over the executions, asking whether "the executions had more to do with political gain rather than justice."

Amnesty International questioned the timing, noting that the Afghan government had avoided executions in recent years.

Amnesty said it understood that President Hamid Karzai is under pressure to prove he can maintain the rule of law and to advance peace efforts with the Taliban.

The rights watchdog and anti-death-penalty group warned that it had news of more Afghan executions to come.

The Taliban, which maintains an armed insurrection to undermine central government control, has warned of reprisals if any of its members are executed.

Public executions, including by stoning, were a frequent event during Taliban rule of wide swaths of Afghanistan from the mid-90s until the U.S.-led coalition ousted that fundamentalist regime in late 2001.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and RFE/RL
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