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Afghanistan: Rights abusers join presidential race

IANS | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 15:01

Kabul: Candidates for the 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan include former military and militia commanders implicated in serious rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The Afghan government`s failure to prosecute or disqualify those responsible for grave crimes underscores the importance of accountability in Afghanistan`s future, it said.

Human Rights Watch called on the Afghan government to seek the repeal of recent amnesty and election laws that prevent the Electoral Complaints Commission from disqualifying presidential and vice presidential candidates responsible for past atrocities.

"Had the Afghan government in the last decade properly addressed crimes of the past, several current candidates would now be disqualified from seeking office - or would even be serving time," said Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"Foreign donors should press the Afghan government to ensure future elections are not being contested by serious rights abusers."

Afghanistan`s constitution bars any individuals "convicted of crimes against humanity, a criminal act or deprivation of civil rights by court" from running for elected office.

But the government`s failure in the last decade to pursue criminal accountability for those responsible for grave crimes has rendered the provision ineffective.

Since there have been no systematic investigations or prosecutions for past atrocities, no major commanders have been convicted for any of the massive abuses that have taken place in Afghanistan during the past 35 years of civil war.

Numerous Afghan warlords, senior politicians, and members of the security forces have committed serious human rights abuses during the various armed conflicts that have devastated Afghanistan over the last three decades.

First Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 14:53

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