Chief Human Rights Officer Norah Niland on release of prisoners convicted for gang rape
26 August 2008 - It has come to our attention that individuals convicted in 2006 for the rape of a woman from the Ruyi Du Ab district of Samangan province in northern Afghanistan have been prematurely released from detention.
This is matter of deep concern. There can be no peace in Afghanistan without justice.
An eleven year prison sentence against the perpetrators was upheld by the Court of Appeal and confirmed by the Afghan Supreme Court. However, the two convicted felons were subsequently released from incarceration after serving a fraction of their sentence and are now back in the neighbourhood where the crime was perpetrated and where the victim and her family continue to live.
This sends the wrong message to other perpetrators of violent crimes against women, that they will not be held accountable for their actions.
While there appears to be conflicting reports on the circumstances of the release of these prisoners, whatever the circumstances, this is clearly an injustice against the victim, the victims’ family and all Afghan women. Such injustice can only promote a culture of impunity for violence perpetrated against women.
The rule of law must be upheld if we are to see strong capable Afghan institutions able to protect and serve the Afghan people. And the proper due process of law must be followed in all cases, without exception.
We understand that the Afghan authorities intend to investigate the circumstances surrounding the release of these individuals, we welcome this step and urge the authorities take all appropriate measures to ensure that justice is done and the rights of Afghan women are protected to the full extent of the law.