Taliban will send delegates to Russian talks on Afghanistan

In this photo taken on October 29, 2018, Afghan security personnel search passengers in a checkpoint on Highway One in Ghazni. On a good day, it takes Mohammad less than three hours to drive from Ghazni to Kabul. (AFP)
Updated 06 November 2018

Taliban will send delegates to Russian talks on Afghanistan

  • Moscow announced Saturday it would host the meeting on November 9 to discuss ways to kickstart peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban
  • The Taliban said it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar

KABUL: The Taliban will send representatives to new talks on Afghanistan taking place in Russia on Friday.

Moscow said last Saturday it would host the meeting to discuss ways to restart peace negotiations. The Taliban said on Tuesday it would dispatch “high-ranking” representatives from its political office in Qatar.

“This conference is not about negotiating with any particular side, rather it is a conference about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

The Afghan government will not attend but is sending members of the High Peace Council, the government body responsible for reconciliation efforts with the militants. Moscow has also invited delegates from the US, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Pakistan, which has been accused of providing support to the Taliban, would “definitely” attend, Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal said.

Najib Mahmoud, a political science professor at Kabul University, said other countries were gaining the upper hand in the peace process.

“The Afghan government is not attending because it does not want to harm its relations with America, but it sends a delegation from the High Peace Council to find out what is discussed,” he told Arab News

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Afghanistan’s chances for peace were “greater now” than in many years, but “the situation remains serious.” He added: “The Taliban must understand that continuing the fight is pointless and counterproductive. 

“We need an Afghan-owned and led peace process. And it must be inclusive.”

Philippines cuts age of criminal liability from 15 to 12

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in front of housewives and mothers, that participate in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the provincial government and Duterte's war on drugs at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga province, Philippines December 22, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 26 min 31 sec ago

Philippines cuts age of criminal liability from 15 to 12

  • Earlier vote to set age at 9 overturned
  • Human rights groups slam the decision

MANILA: A controversial decision by lawmakers in the Philippines to lower the country’s age of criminal liability to 12, has been slammed by human rights groups.
The move on Wednesday overturns a recommendation last week to slash the current minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 9 years old.
Opponents of the bill, seen as a key part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to crack down on crime, said the decision would only worsen the plight of Filipino children. 
Lawmakers approved the proposed bill during a second reading, after it was initially passed by the House of Representatives’ committee on justice last Monday, saying it would better protect children from criminal exploitation.
International watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the proposed measure. Its representative in Asia, Carlos Conde, told Arab News: “If the Senate makes good on its promise to pass this version and it is signed into law by the president (Duterte), this would no doubt worsen the plight of Filipino children caught up in the justice system.”
Conde pointed out that children in the Philippines aged between 14 and 9, already face “mandatory confinement” of up to 12 years for committing murder, kidnapping and taking vehicles, and a range of drug-related crimes.
“Children in the Philippines have already been subjected to the extreme violence of Duterte’s ‘drug war,’ with police and government agents killing dozens during anti-drug operations for being suspected drug users or the pawns of drug dealers,” added Conde.
“The proposed law will not only stigmatize children even more, it will turn them into scapegoats in the government’s abusive anti-crime campaign.”
The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also slammed the proposed bill and said that “punishing children for the crime and abuse of syndicates and other people is against the state’s responsibility to look after the interests and welfare of children.”
Julius Cainglet, advocacy committee chairman of the country’s National Child Labor Committee (NCLC), said: “We should not punish our own children for society’s failure to care for them properly. This (the bill) would be a major setback for our internationally-renowned efforts at ending child labor.”
House of Representatives’ Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Michael Romero said the proposed measure was in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’s ruling on MACR. He said 12 years old was a “just and appropriate” minimum age of criminal liability but added that 9 years old was “simply too young.”
Rep. Doy Leachon, chairman of the House committee on justice, said that during the period when the minimum age of criminal responsibility in the country had been 15, there had been a huge rise in crime committed by children.
“This bill was brought about by the alarming increase in the number of criminal syndicates using minors to carry out criminal acts,” Leachon said. “It is time to pass this bill in order to protect our children from being used by ruthless and unscrupulous criminal syndicates to evade prosecution and punishment.”