The Office of Prison Administration (OPA) said they will not be releasing 597 prisoners that were included in the Taliban technical team’s list of 5,000 prisoners that were demanded.
The OPA announced on Sunday that these prisoners were convicted of criminal offences and moral crimes, including murder.
“Murderers’ are on the Taliban list and the government has resisted. It is a [victims’] rights issue and the law does not allow to release someone under the pretext of being a Taliban member, who is charged with murder or even moral crimes like rape,” Ahmad Rashid Totakhil head of the OPA said.
The Taliban rejected the claims and said the list only includes names of those who had been arrested on charges of being members of the group.
Under the U.S.-Taliban deal signed in Doha in February, the Afghan government had to release 5,000 of the group’s prisoners while the Taliban would set 1,000 free as a confidence-building measures ahead of the intra-Afghan talks.
So far, the Afghan government has released over 4,000 Taliban prisoners, while the Taliban has let 616 people free, of which 408 are security forces.
The Taliban has insisted, on multiple occasions, for the target of prisoner exchange to be met as a precondition for the talks.
The Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called on the Afghan government to address the issue of war crimes and hardened militants who may return to the frontlines, including key Taliban commanders.
Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi tweeted on Sunday night, that the Afghan government remains “committed to ending the war” however the release of all security and defence forces captives by the Taliban “is in the interest of the state and the nation.”
He urged the group to complete the prisoner exchange process as it remains a “very important principle” of the peace process.