Renewed calls for the liberation of Latif Pedram

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution on 8 July 2008 on the stabilization of Afghanistan. This resolution, which addresses a number of key issues including international support to Afghanistan, notably calls on the Afghan authorities to release Latif Pedram, from house arrest, dismiss the charges against him and give assurances about his security.

However, Mr. Pedram, leader of the democratic opposition National Congress Party of Afghanistan who participated in the 2004 presidential elections, is still, five months later, deprived of liberty and this, despite the international mobilization for his release. "We submitted the case of Mr. Pedram to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention earlier this week because we believe that his deprivation of liberty is arbitrary", declared Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

Since February 2, Latif Pedram is prevented from leaving the residence in Kabul of Mr. Abdul Rashid Dostum, member of the Uzbek minority and member of the government. By order of the Attorney General, the police and security forces from the Ministry of Interior have surrounded the house. It is consequently impossible for Mr. Pedram to move from that house by fear of being attacked by armed men. The Attorney General has forbidden him since February to leave the Afghan territory for having allegedly witnessed an altercation between two Afghan political personalities. He has had contact with Afghan and international authorities, but the government has refused to lift the de facto house arrest. Meanwhile no charges have been raised against him and no explanation given for his de facto house arrest.

FIDH believes the detention of Latif Pedram is arbitrary because there are reasonable grounds to consider that it aims at preventing him from participating in the forthcoming presidential election next year. FIDH has already approached UNAMA, the EU, the Afghan government and NATO in an open letter dated June 2.

"We are deeply concerned for the safety of Latif Pedram and we join the European Parliament’s call for his release", concluded Souhayr Belhassen.

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