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Afghanistan upper house approves war crimes amnesty

[JURIST] The Meshrano Jirga [Wikipedia backgrounder], the upper house of the Afghanistan parliament [IRIN backgrounder], Tuesday approved a resolution calling for amnesty from war crimes prosecution for leaders of the Afghan mujahedeen resistance who fought against Soviet forces in the 1980s and later engaged in murder and torture during the country's civil war [CNN backgrounder]. Both houses of parliament are dominated by alleged warlords and Tuesday's 41-16 vote followed the lower house's approval [JURIST report] of the measure earlier this month. The resolution calls for war criminals to be "included in the national reconciliation process," rather than face prosecution.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile] must sign the bill before it becomes law and a spokesman for the president said he will refuse to do so. The Afghan Constitution [PDF text] allows a presidential veto to be overridden if the lower house of parliament does so by a two-thirds vote. The resolution has been strongly criticized by the United Nations [JURIST report], human rights groups, and some Afghan legislators who contend that war criminals should only be forgiven by their victims and should therefore be brought to justice. RFE/RL has more.

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