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CARE: Afghan War Crime Amnesty is Unacceptable
OSLO - March 19 - Afghanistan's new law giving amnesty to people accused of serious war crimes, including violence against women and children, is a long step away from securing basic rights for the Afghan people, warns CARE.
The promise to improve Afghan women's lives was among the goals expressed after the fall of the Taliban. Reports from our colleagues in Afghanistan suggest this has not at all happened. Those few women who dare stand up and voice their opinions, are met with threats and violence. "This new law shows that the Afghan society is moving from bad to worse when it comes to women's rights," says Marte Gerhardsen, national director of CARE Norway.
For decades, the Afghan people have suffered violence and abuse on the part of warlords. The new law makes it impossible to prosecute warlords and other perpetrators of war crimes committed before Taliban's fall in 2001.
"Not prosecuting these crimes is an act of contempt towards the victims." Gerhardsen continues, "As a consequence people will have even less confidence in the government and the political processes in general."
Afghanistan also recently passed a law legalizing rape in marriage as well as reducing women's right to education, employment and inheritance.
These new laws demonstrate the Afghan government's disregard of securing equal treatment of women and men. "This happens in spite of the fact that the Afghan constitution clearly asserts that all citizens have equal rights under the law," says Gerhardsen.
The amnesty law directly contradicts U.N. Resolution 1325 on prosecuting war criminals and crimes against humanity, especially sexual violence and other types of violence against women and young girls.
"It sends a signal to women in Afghanistan that their rights are not taken seriously," Gerhardsen states.
Many of the war criminals now given amnesty are government representatives today. Gerhardsen fears this will have adverse effects for those women struggling to secure higher positions in society.
He says, "Because of this law they will have to compete with men who have used aggression and violence to achieve their goals and gotten away with it. This sets development back several years in the Afghan society."