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Appeal to suspend the blanket order confirming 100 death penalty sentences

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FORUM-ASIA has urged Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to suspend the recent blanket order issued by the Supreme Court confirming the death penalty sentences of 100 Afghan prisoners on Wednesday, 16 April, 2008. FORUM-ASIA believes that this not only violates the right to a fair trial, but it also believes that the death penalty is a gross violation of the right to life.

Monday, 28 April, 2008

(Bangkok) The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) today sent a letter to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai urging him to suspend the blanket order confirming the death penalty sentences of 100 Afghan prisoners. The blanket order was issued by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, 16 April, 2008, which clearly suggests that there was no close examination of the cases of these prisoners when these went up on appeal.
A blanket order confirming the death penalty sentences of these Afghan prisoners violates the strict safeguards embodied in international law for fair trials in death penalty cases. Under international law, the Supreme Court has the duty to ensure that the cases of these prisoners are strictly scrutinised using the highest standards for the gathering and assessment of evidence. According to Mr. Yap Swee Seng, FORUM-ASIA’s Acting Executive Director: “By issuing the blanket order, it is clear that the Supreme Court did not apply these standards and did not conduct a strict and close examination of these prisoners’ cases when they came up for appeal.”

The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment and is strictly a violation of the right to life. FORUM-ASIA has been actively urging Asian governments still imposing the death penalty to implement the existing global moratorium on the use of the death penalty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2007. This landmark resolution is a step towards the total abolition of the death penalty and is vital in the promotion and protection of human rights in Asia, especially in Afghanistan.

Download the full statement (.pdf).