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Afghanistan should reject any future deals that exchange immunity from prosecution for peace negotiations, an official with Human Rights Watch says.
"Afghanistan's civilians should not be forced to choose between justice and peace," Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director, said in a statement released Sunday.
Adams' comments were in response to a Nov. 17 statement by the chairman of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, Salahuddin Rabbani, that Taliban officials who participate in peace talks with the Afghan government would be granted immunity from prosecution and be removed from a list of people under sanctions by the United Nations.
"Future government talks with the Taliban should not hinge upon denying justice to victims of war crimes and other abuses," Adams said.
Nine Taliban officials were freed from a Pakistani prison last week at the request of the High Peace Council, and 50 more members of the Taliban are expected to be released in the future.
HRW said providing immunity for genocide, war crimes and other human rights abuses violated international treaties such as the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which Afghanistan has signed.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai allowed the National Stability and Reconciliation Law to go into effect in 2010, despite his promise that he would not sign it. The law prevents the prosecution of anyone involved in large-scale human rights abuses committed before December 2001.
HRW has called the law "an invitation for future human rights abuses."