“If they bring leaders of the mujahedeen to court it will tarnish the name of jihad,” one legislator argued. An update on this story. “Afghanistan weighs amnesty in war crimes,” by Matthew Pennington for AP:
KABUL, Afghanistan – The upper house of parliament passed a resolution Tuesday that calls for an amnesty for Afghans “” including some lawmakers and members of the government “” who are suspected of war crimes during a quarter-century of fighting, an
official said. President Hamid Karzai will now decide whether it should become law, said Kadamali Nekpai, chief of the upper house’s press department.
The resolution, which has been condemned by the United Nations and international human rights groups, was passed by the lower house Jan. 31 and covers the mujahedeen leaders who led the anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s and plunged Afghanistan into civil war in the early 1990s. Many of them sit in parliament.
Senators on Tuesday approved the same resolution by a 50-16 majority, Nekpai said.
Although lawmakers describe it as a resolution rather than a bill, they also say it would be made law if Karzai approves it.
Sen. Abdullah Haqahaqi said if Karzai rejected the resolution, it would be voted on again by the lower house and if two-thirds of lawmakers were in favor, it would still become law.
And that law would set a precedent for upholding a double standard where crimes were committed under the banner of “jihad.”
Karzai has not made any public comment on the resolution, but his chief spokesman has said the president will not sign anything that goes against Afghanistan’s constitution and has asked his lawyers to assess its legality.
The resolution only applies to those who accept Afghanistan’s constitution and government authority, so an amnesty would apply to a minority of former Taliban who have reconciled with the government, but not for current insurgent leaders such as Mullah
Tens of thousands of Afghans died during the years of civil conflict that followed the Soviet occupation.
“One thing must be very clear, and it should be clear worldwide: amnesty for gross violations of human rights and for war crimes shouldn’t exist,” Tom Koenigs, the U.N.’s special representative to Afghanistan, told reporters Monday.
A U.S.-backed invasion in late 2001 toppled the hard-line Taliban regime and ushered in an era of democracy, but it also has seen a number of powerful warlords elevated to high office or seats in parliament.
“Unfortunately, the majority of the lower and upper houses of parliament are warlords and people with blood on their hands,” said Nafas Gul, a female senator for Farah province who voted against the resolution. “It’s a betrayal of the rights of Afghans.”
But another senator who voted in favor said it would promote national unity.
“It’s a good step because we want the unity in Afghanistan. If they bring leaders of the mujahedeen to court it will tarnish the name of jihad (holy war).”