UN expresses concern over execution of 15 Afghan prisoners

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United Nations, Oct 9 (UNI) The top UN envoy to Afghanistan, has expressed deep concern at the recent execution of 15 prisoners in Kabul.

''The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has been a staunch supporter of the moratorium on executions observed in Afghanistan in recent years,'' UNAMA chief Tom Koenigs said.

In a statement, released yesterday at the United Nations headquarter in New York, Mr Koenigs acknowledged the sovereign right of the Afghan people and their government to decide on the execution of laws , but called for Afghanistan to 'continue working towards attaining highest human rights standards and ensuring that due process of law and the rights of all citizens are respected.' ''It is my personal view that the death penalty should be abolished worldwide,'' he added.

UNAMA also reported that with UN High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR)'s assistance, more than 353,000 Afghans have repatriated so far this year of which nearly 348,000 are from Pakistan and more than 5,000 from Iran, More than 16,000 Afghans returned home from Pakistan and Iran last month, UNAMA's Nazifullah Salarzai told reporters in Kabul, adding that the pace of repatriation was slowing down with the onset of winters.

''We're now seeing return numbers averaging 200 per day, down from a peak of over 12,000 assisted returns per day in April,'' Mr Salarzai said, according to reports received at UN headquarters here.

While UNHCR's voluntary repatriation operation from Iran will continue through the winter, its operation from Pakistan will take a 'winter break' at the end of October to resume next March.

Since 2002, some 5 million Afghan refugees have returned to their battle-scarred homeland, mostly from Pakistan and Iran, a majority aided by UNHCR. Most of the 3 million registered Afghans were living in the neighbouring countries for more than two decades.

UNI

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