UN rights chief calls on Afghanistan to reinstate moratorium on executions

9 October 2007 –

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has urged Afghanistan to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty following the execution of 15 convicted prisoners in Kabul on Sunday.

“I am deeply troubled by this sudden resort to execution after three years of refraining from carrying out the death penalty,” she said in a statement issued today.

Saying the circumstances of the executions may constitute a breach of Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, the High Commissioner called on the Government “to reinstate a moratorium on the carrying out of any further executions.”

In a statement issued yesterday, the top UN envoy to Afghanistan also expressed his concern at the use of the death penalty in the war-torn nation. Tom Koenigs called for Afghanistan to “continue working towards attaining highest human rights standards and ensuring that due process of law and the rights of all citizens are respected.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Arbour will begin a four-day visit to Sri Lanka tomorrow, at the invitation of the Government.

The visit to the South Asian nation, which has been embroiled in a decades-long conflict between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is part of the High Commissioner’s efforts to engage with Member States in the promotion and protection of human rights.

While in Colombo, Ms. Arbour will be meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, senior Government officials, and representatives of political parties, UN agencies, the diplomatic community and civil society, Yvon Edoumou of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva.

The High Commissioner will also meet with members of the Tamil movement, including Members of Parliament representing the Tamil National Alliance, with whom she will raise issues concerning human rights, Mr. Edoumou added.

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