Afghan Authorities Must Commute Soldier's Death Sentence

Press Release
July 18, 2012

Afghan Authorities Must Commute Soldier's Death Sentence

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @spksingh

(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International urges Afghan authorities to commute the death sentence of an Afghan soldier who killed five French soldiers in January, during a joint operation in the northeast Kapisa province.

Abdul Saboor opened fire on French forces and was overpowered and arrested before he could flee. The attack is part of a growing trend of 'Green-on-Blue' incidents in which Afghan soldiers attack international forces fighting alongside them.

"While the Afghan authorities should investigate and try Abdul Saboor for his suspected crimes, the death penalty is a violation of his right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s South Asia director. "Its continued use in Afghanistan goes against the global trend towards abolition."

During his interrogation and trial, Saboor accepted all of the charges he faced. Despite this, a military court in Kabul sentenced him to death on Sunday, July 15. Saboor retains the right to appeal his case in a military court.

Amnesty International implores the Afghan government to ensure that Saboor has access to a defense lawyer in all stages of his appeal and allow his family and friends to visit him during his detention.

Members of Saboor's family have raised concerns over the state of his mental health.

"The Afghan authorities must ensure that an independent medical expert has unrestricted access to Saboor in order to properly ascertain his state of health," added Truscott. "International standards prohibit the use of the death penalty on people with mental disabilities."

Amnesty International calls on Afghan authorities to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions as the first step toward abolition of the death penalty. Afghanistan is one of fewer than 30 countries to carry out executions last year.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.