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Afghanistan lower house approves amnesty bill with Karzai revisions

[JURIST] The Wolesi Jirga [Wikipedia backgrounder], the lower house of the Afghan parliament [IRIN backgrounder], voted Saturday to approve a revised resolution calling for an amnesty for groups that allegedly committed war crimes [JURIST news archive]. The resolution, revised by President Hamid Karzai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], bars the state from independently prosecuting individuals for war crimes absent accusation from an alleged victim. The revised resolution also extends the amnesty to all groups, as opposed to only leaders of various factions alleged to have committed war crimes during the 1980s resistance against Soviet forces and war crimes committed during the country's civil war [CNN backgrounder].

Both Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga [Wikipedia backgrounder], the upper house of parliament, initially approved a resolution calling for amnesty [JURIST report] for leaders in February. The resolution drew some popular support [JURIST report] but was criticized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [JURIST report] and other rights advocates. Afghanistan's highest body of Islamic clerics also opposed the issuance of a blanket amnesty, arguing that the perpetrators of war crimes can only gain forgiveness from the victims and not the parliament. 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 can override his veto with a two-thirds majority vote. AP has more.

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