Amnesty on Afghan war crimes approved

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The Independent Online

The Afghan parliament has approved a bill granting an amnesty from charges of war crimes during the past 25 years of conflict.

Critics said the move was to protect warlords who have become MPs and have been accused in the past of human rights abuses.

The lower house of parliament, which approved the bill, said it was in the interests of peace and reconciliation. However, the motion has to be passed by the upper house before being sent to President Hamid Karzai to become law.

The proposed legislation has been criticised by the country's human rights watchdog and Malalai Joya, one of the few MPs who did not approve the bill, describing it as being tantamount to "forgiving national traitors".

Human Rights Watch called last month for a truth and reconciliation court to deal with war crimes and human rights abuses, including by some who still "hold high office".

The National Reconciliation Bill says the "defenders" of the jihad "must be treated with respect and be defended against any kind of offence," An MP supporting the proposal said: "It is a move to reconcile different communities, the law states that no political party or groups involved in the past two-and-a-half decades of war will be pursued by the judiciary."

Ms Joya, known for standing up to jihadi commanders who occupy many of the seats in parliament, said the draft was unjust and went "against the will of the people". She said: "National unity cannot be achieved through forgiving national traitors.

"They must be tried. In fact, they have already been tried in the minds and hearts of people and they should be tried officially."

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