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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Call for Afghan war crimes inquiry
Fighters of key warlord Atta Mohammed laying down their arms near Mazar-e-Sharif, earlier this year
Afghanistan: Rule of gun, not rule of law

A UN special envoy sent to Afghanistan to investigate extra-judicial killings has called for an international inquiry into human rights abuses.


An atmosphere of fear prevails, especially in areas outside Kabul

Asma Jahangir,
UN envoy
Asma Jahangir, a lawyer from Pakistan, said it could be the first step towards creating a proper system of justice in Afghanistan that would bring those guilty to trial.

She says now is the time to begin to account for grave human rights violations in Afghanistan, where there have been allegations of mass killings by all sides during years of conflict.

In the past 10 days the special rapporteur visited mass grave sites and met local people and officials to discuss Afghanistan's recent bloody past.

She was taken to one site where it is believed as many as 4,000 Afghans were killed by the Taleban.

Death penalty

But all is not past.

Taleban fighters
Taleban and others are accused of mass killings
Asma Jahangir says that in northern Afghanistan intimidation, fear and the rule of the gun prevail, rather than the rule of law.

The UN official also recommended that Afghanistan should suspend applying the death penalty.

Two people are due to be put to death, including one former warlord, but Doctor Jahangir says Afghanistan's justice system does not meet international standards for imposing such punishments.

She says one senior judge told her that the judiciary cannot deliver justice because people enter their courts with guns.

The UN special rapporteur described a desperate need for training, experience and funding to introduce a formal system of justice after 23 years of lawlessness.


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27 Aug 02 | South Asia
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