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AFGHANISTAN - Dec 15 - FM Defends Approach To War Criminals.

The country's FM Abdullah Abdullah, defends the government's softly approach to dealing with war criminals and warns that the country had to avoid becoming trapped "in a limited circle of revenge". Abdullah was speaking at the end of a three-day conference that brought together more than 300 Afghan and international rights activists to discuss an action plan adopted by the Afghan government to deal with war crimes. The government has laid out a five-point strategy that could lead to the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission similar to the one in post-apartheid South Africa or a stronger tribunal to bring prosecutions. The plan also includes setting up a commission to look into the best way of dealing with war crimes and establishing a body to vet senior government appointments. Throwing light on some of the darkest moments in Afghan history has become especially crucial now that several warlords accused of atrocities during Afghanistan's decades of conflict have been elected to the country's parliament, which is due to sit for the first time in three decades next week. "Parliament is going to open and the outside world is going to portray it as a triumph when many Afghans see it as a failure of political will", said Sam Zia Zarifi, of US-based Human Rights Watch. Many known criminals with links to militias or the drug industry were allowed to stand for election in spite of a slew of complaints about rights abuses to a UN-backed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC). "What assurance do we have that the commission would be effective when the government allowed so many criminals and human rights violators into our national assembly"? asked Roha Tarin, a parliamentary candidate in southern Kandahar province, where legislative election results were marred by allegations of fraud. She said Afghan people had lost faith in the political process because the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the ECC had failed to bring rights abusers to justice. "These commissions have been largely ceremonial. The government should bring these criminals to justice and prosecution", she said at the conclusion of the conference. The political will of Pres Hamid Karzai, to deal with well-armed thugs has been further called into question by his decision to appoint former defence minister Mashal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a warlord accused of rights violations, as a member of the Senate.
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Title Annotation:Abdullah Abdullah
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Dec 17, 2005
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