[JURIST] New York-based monitoring group Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] Wednesday issued a new report [text] calling for Afghan President Hamid Karzai [Wikipedia profile] to establish a Special Court to try high-level government officials and others [press release] accused of taking part in atrocities committed during Afghanistan's civil war from April 1992 to March 1993. The authors of the report recommended that
the court be comprised of both Afghan and international judges, with an international majority, and that the prosecutors office be led by an international prosecutor. If it proves impossible to establish the Special Court in Afghanistan, because of political opposition, lack of judicial independence or political impartiality, or problems related to security of witnesses or court personnel, we recommend that the court be physically located outside of the country.Karzai has previously announced support for investigations of war crimes, but made no decisions about the process. A spokesman said he would review the report before responding. BBC News has more.
We are aware of the domestic sensitivities to this second proposal and the legal and practical complexities of implementing it. Still, we believe there are several good arguments for this approach that weigh in its favor. A Special Court, ideally located in Afghanistan but elsewhere if necessary, would have the best chance of meeting recognized fair trial standards. Such a court would also be better placed than a domestic court in the current environment to handle the complexities, both technical and political, of major trials.