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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Call for Afghan war crimes court
By Andrew North
BBC correspondent in Kabul

General Dostum campaigning in elections last year
Gen Dostum - critics want him put on trial
Afghan President Hamid Karzai should set up a court to try people accused of past war crimes, New York-based campaign group Human Rights Watch says.

Several people it names in a new report are now serving in or advising his government, including veteran northern militia commander, Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Tens of thousands died in the civil war that erupted in April 1992 after the Soviet-backed government fell.

There were widespread atrocities but no one has been brought to justice.

QUICK GUIDE

Talk to any resident of Kabul in their late teens or older, and chances are they or their relatives will have a terrible story to tell from the early 1990s - of family members or friends killed in the bloody internecine fighting that swept the city.

And public opinion surveys have shown a majority of people here still want to see those accused of involvement held accountable.

'Impunity'

This detailed Human Rights Watch report - based on two years of research - names some of those facing such allegations, including Abdul Rashid Dostum - who currently holds a senior defence ministry position.

Another man named is Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, leader of an Islamist group who often advises President Karzai, as well as one of his deputies.

The Afghan leader has in the past said he supports some kind of accountability process, but no decision has yet been taken.

But Human Rights Watch says the current situation amounts to impunity for perpetrators of past abuses.

Its concern is that these allegations are being overlooked in the interests of stability - especially with parliamentary elections coming up in September.

A spokesman for President Karzai said the government wanted to study the report further before making a response.


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