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Afghanistan: UN voices concern at possible impunity for human rights abusers

2 February 2007 The top United Nations human rights official voiced concern today that the national stability plan passed by Afghanistan’s lower house of Parliament this week could lead to past serious human rights violations going unpunished, undermining efforts to secure long-term peace in the war-torn country.

“Those responsible for serious human rights violations must be brought to justice,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said in a statement, calling on the Government to fulfil commitments it has already made to ensure effective justice. “This is vital both for this and future generations.

“Experience has shown time and again that effective and durable national reconciliation must be based on respect for international human rights standards and the rule of law, and must not come at their expense,” she added, noting that according to the plan opponents who fought each other over the past 25 years should, in pursuit of national reconciliation, not be dealt with through legal and judicial channels.

Ms. Arbour recalled that President Hamid Karzai last month publicly launched the Action Plan on Peace, Reconciliation and Justice with, among its objectives, the aim of ending impunity and ensuring that there will be no amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations.

The plan, which also seeks to establish fair and effective justice procedures, in accordance with the principles of Islam, international law and transitional justice, to deal with such cases, is a commitment that Afghanistan has made, she said.

“The voices of the victims must be heard and they have spoken out clearly for the culture of impunity in Afghanistan to end,” she added, calling the Government to vigorously continue implementing the Action Plan to meet the benchmark set in the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year blueprint for reconstruction that was signed with the country’s international partners at a conference in London last February.

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