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Protesters rally for Afghanistan war crimes amnesty bill

[JURIST] Tens of thousands of protesters rallied [Radio Free Europe report] in the Afghan capital of Kabul Friday to support an amnesty bill that would shield alleged war criminals who participated in the anti-Soviet resistance during the 1980s and the 1992-1996 civil war [Wikipedia backgrounders] from prosecution. The lower house of the Afghan parliament [official website] approved the measure [JURIST report] at the end of January and it passed the upper house [JURIST report] earlier this month, but President Hamid Karzai [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] is known to oppose the legislation. Rights activists insist that Afghanistan's parliament includes a significant number of war criminals. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] has also criticized the resolution [JURIST report].

Under Afghanistan's 2004 constitution [text], the amnesty bill will become law unless the president acts within 15 days of parliamentary passage. If Karzai refuses to sign the bill, the 250-member Wolesi Jirga, or “House of the People," can override his veto with a two-thirds majority vote. BBC has more.

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