U.N. reviewing Taliban blacklist after Afghan jirga

KABUL Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:22pm EDT

Staffan De Mistura, the new Special Representative of the United Nations for Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul March 23, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Staffan De Mistura, the new Special Representative of the United Nations for Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul March 23, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

KABUL (Reuters) - The United Nations is reviewing the names of Taliban figures on its sanctions list following a call to do so at last week's peace conference in Afghanistan, the top U.N. envoy said on Saturday.

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1267 freezes assets and limits travel of senior figures linked to the Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, but recent Afghan efforts to engage some insurgents in diplomacy have raised doubts about who should be on the list.

At least five of those named are former Taliban officials who now serve in parliament or privately mediate between the government and the insurgents battling NATO-led forces and their Afghan partners.

Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative to Afghanistan, said a Security Council team had come in to discuss updating the 137-name list, and was expected to submit recommendations to the council by the end of June.

"Updating means taking on or taking off based on additional new information. Some of the people in the list may not be alive any more. The list may be completely outdated ... Now it's the right time," de Mistura told reporters.

"We are not going, of course, to prejudge the conclusions of this group ... but the fact that this is taking place so soon after the peace jirga (conference) and so soon after the appeal to look seriously at this list is a sign of proactivity.

"They are obviously hearing a message from Kabul."

JUSTICE FOR DETAINEES

A statement summarizing the June 2-4 meeting of 1,600 tribal and religious leaders in Kabul urged the Afghan government and foreign powers to "take serious action in getting the names of those in opposition removed from the consolidated blacklist."

It also demanded amnesty for Afghans who have been jailed "based on inaccurate information or unsubstantiated allegations" -- an especially touchy complaint given the humanitarian arguments behind the U.S.-led invasion to hunt down al Qaeda and crush its ruling Taliban sponsors in late 2001.

De Mistura said the United Nations was ready to help a committee set up to assess due process of law for detainees in prisons run by the government and by NATO-led forces.

"There was a common feeling among my human rights colleagues that there were many people who were detained without legal basis, and that could be a possible criterion along which one judges both the liberation of those that are detained, both on the political grounds or on other grounds, from both prisons -- the national and international ones," he said.

While saying he deferred to the will of the Afghan people, de Mistura appeared to support those seeking engagement with Taliban who disavow al Qaeda and support the new national constitution.

"One thing we are hearing, especially between now and next year, (is) that there is no military solution to this conflict. The Taliban will never win, and the war on the other side will never win either," he said.

"The only way is some type of dialogue based on clear conditions. I didn't say 'preconditions'. Conditions."

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

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