The Afghan Government – recently celebrating its first year in office – has announced an ambitious reform program in the judicial sector. This was confirmed at the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on September 5 in Kabul. The government has committed to develop and implement a Justice Sector Reform plan with a view to improving access to justice and strengthening rule of law all over the country. This plan shall be launched before December 2016. This is an obvious chance for the Government to improve further their Human Rights record especially when it comes to the continued retention of death penalty.
October 10 is the European & World Day against Death Penalty. It is worthwhile noticing that 98 countries have abolished fully capital punishment, while another 42 have in place a de facto moratorium on executions. We think it is time for Afghanistan to join ranks with the vast majority of members of the international community and abolish death penalty, a cruel and unnecessary punishment.
In countries which still have death penalty, public opinion often considers capital punishment as needed to reduce serious crimes. However, there is no evidence that death penalty has such an effect. On several occasions since 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations has resolved that “there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty”. This is also why, in countries where death penalty was abolished, public opinion has quickly evolved on this issue, to the extent that a majority has become adverse to it.
No matter how developed a justice system is, it will always remain exposed to human failure. The risk of executing an innocent person exists in any justice system. In a weak juridical system, that risk is even higher. Unfortunately, there have been and always will be cases of executions of innocent people. Unlike prison sentences, the death penalty is irreversible and irreparable. One case of an innocent person being executed is one to many – a good reason for the Government to stand down from this punishment.
The European Union and its member states hold a strong and principled position against death penalty. Its abolition represents one of the main objectives of our Human Rights Policy – not only in Afghanistan, but worldwide.
To honour the European & World Day against the Death Penalty, we therefore urge the Government to establish a moratorium with immediate effect that suspends the execution of death sentences in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan needs less – not more violence.
View expressed in this article are of the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Pajhwok’s editorial policy