CARE: Afghan War Crime Amnesty is Unacceptable

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lurma Rackley
Public Relations Director
Phone: +1.404.979.9450 (Atlanta)
Mobile: +1.404.394.8298
E-mail: lrackley@care.org

CARE: Afghan War Crime Amnesty is Unacceptable

OSLO - 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."

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CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.

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