The Netherlands speaks out against Afghan executions

On 11 October, in an interview with the Afghan foreign minister, Rangin Dadar Spanta, the Netherlands spoke out against the recent executions of fifteen Afghan prisoners. Speaking on behalf of the European Union and Norway, the Netherlands urged Afghanistan to halt any future executions and to re-establish a moratorium on the death penalty as the first step towards abolishing the death penalty.

Such a moratorium had existed in Afghanistan since 2004. For the Netherlands and the European Union, abolishing the death penalty is a priority of foreign policy. The Netherlands and Afghanistan agreed in November 2005 that individuals arrested by Dutch troops and handed over to the Afghan authorities would not be executed. During the interview, Dr Spanta stated that Afghanistan would honour agreements with the Netherlands.

Press release issued by the Dutch embassy in Kabul on 11 October 2007:

Statement by the EU Presidency on behalf of all EU Member States and Norway on the execution by the Government of Afghanistan of fifteen Afghan nationals on the 7th October 2007

Kabul, Afghanistan –

It is with deep regret that the EU and Norway have learned of the execution of fifteen Afghan Nationals on the 7th October. The European Union and Norway oppose the death penalty in all cases and accordingly seeks its universal abolition, through a global moratorium on the death penalty as the first step.

The European Union Member States and Norway would like to make an urgent appeal to halt any possible further executions and to request the Government of Afghanistan to reconsider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty. Furthermore they would like to request the Government of Afghanistan to consider the accession of Afghanistan to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on the abolition of the death penalty.

The EU and Norway are concerned that the procedural guarantees for a fair trial were not in place given the weak state of the Afghan judicial system. Furthermore they are concerned about the way the death penalty was carried out in secrecy. Executions under these circumstances are contrary to internationally recognised human rights norms and neglect the dignity and worth of the human person.

The EU and Norway call on the Government of Afghanistan to respect their international obligations, particularly in the field of Human Rights.


The Netherlands is a member of the European Union (EU) and currently acting EU president in Afghanistan on behalf of Portugal.