Prisoners accused of war crimes should not be released: AIHRC

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), referring to the Afghan government’s planned release of Taliban prisoners as a “confidence-building measure” ahead of intra-Afghan talks, said those Taliban inmates who are accused of being involved in war crimes or crimes against humanity shouldn’t be released from the jails by the government during the swap.

“According to the national and international laws, the president does not have the authority to release those individuals who are accused of being involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity,” said NaeemNazari, the deputy head of the AIHRC.

The opposition comes amid reports that the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani is expected to issue a decree on Tuesday that will pave the way for the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners from the jails.

According to the US-Taliban deal and the joint Afghan-US declaration, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners should be released by March 10 in order to facilitate the intra-Afghan negotiations with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s spokesman in Doha Suhail Shaheen has said that the Taliban have handed over a full list of 5,000 Taliban prisoners to the American side and that the group will verify the identities of the inmates.

“The Taliban has given the US a full list of 5,000 (inmates). No forgery can be done to it. One condition: the prisoners should be handed to Taliban in a deserted area. Or names should be checked by a Taliban delegation in prison,” Shaheen tweeted.

Following eighteen months of negotiations in Doha, the United States and the Taliban on February 29 signed a peace deal that will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for a number of solid assurances by the Taliban to the US and its allies.

On the prisoner release, the US-Taliban peace agreement reads: “Up to five thousand (5,000) prisoners of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban, and up to one thousand (1,000) prisoners of the other side will be released by March 10, 2020, the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations, which corresponds to Rajab 15, 1441 on the Hijri Lunar calendar and Hoot 20, 1398 on the Hijri Solar calendar. “

Both the US and the Taliban at the time said the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners was part of the efforts to kick start the intra-Afghan talks.

But on March 1, a day after the US and the Taliban peace deal, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appeared at a press conference in Kabul and said that there was no commitment about the release of the 5,000 prisoners of the Taliban.

“An agreement that is signed behind closed doors will have basic problems in its implementation tomorrow,” said Ghani on March 1, referring to the US-Taliban peace deal.

“The release of prisoners is not the United States’ authority, but it is the authority of the government of Afghanistan,” Ghani also said.

But on Monday, March 9, during his inauguration ceremony, he changed his stance on the release of the Taliban prisoners, saying he will issue a decree for their release on Tuesday, March 10.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) raised issues earlier about the proposed prisoner release in an open letter to the US, the Taliban and the Afghan government that raised concerns over the release of Taliban prisoners.

In the letter, the human rights commission called on the US, the Taliban and the Afghan government not to undermine the demands of families of war victims for justice, nor to deny rights to the prisoners, and finally not to be irresponsible about keeping track of prisoners after they were released.

“The key point is that the 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by the Afghan government—their names have not been shared with the Independent Human Rights Commission,” said Zabiullah Farhang, head of the media department of AIHRC.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) called on the US, Taliban and Afghan govt to address three issues with prisoner exchange: “First, victims’ access to justice. Second, due process of prisoners.Third, verification of prisoners’ identities, monitoring and post-release plans.”(TOLOnews)