23 Nov 2012

NZ support of Afghan government questioned

8:09 am on 23 November 2012

Questions are being raised about New Zealand's continued support of the Afghan government, following the resumption of executions in Afghanistan after a moratorium of almost four years.

Jon Stephenson, a New Zealand journalist in Kabul, says eight men were hanged at a prison in the city on Tuesday and a further six were executed on Wednesday.

He says human rights groups are calling on governments like New Zealand's - which oppose the death penalty - to condemn the executions.

Executions have been rare since the Taliban fell in 2001. Officials told the BBC that those hanged were criminals, and not linked to the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams has called on President Hamid Karzai to stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium.

Amnesty International Asia-Pacific deputy director Polly Truscott said detainees were frequently tortured into (making) confessions, with no guarantee of a fair trial.

Correspondents say more than 250 prison inmates are on death row.