UN urges Afghanistan’s Taliban to end floggings, executions

May 7, 2023, 10:43 PM

FILE - A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Dec. 26, 2022...

FILE - A Taliban fighter stands guard as a woman walks past in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Dec. 26, 2022. The United Nations' human rights chief on Tuesday Dec. 27, 2022. A U.N. report on Monday, May 8, 2023 condemned the Taliban for their harsh rule since seizing power in Afghanistan — including public execution, lashings, and amputations — and for ignoring international calls to respect human rights and freedoms. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A U.N. report on Monday strongly criticized the Taliban for carrying out public executions, lashings and stonings since seizing power in Afghanistan, and called on the country’s rulers to halt such practices.

In the past six months alone, 274 men, 58 women and two boys were publicly flogged in Afghanistan, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA.

“Corporal punishment is a violation of the Convention against Torture and must cease,” said Fiona Frazer, the agency’s human rights chief. She also called for an immediate moratorium on executions.

The Taliban foreign ministry said in response that Afghanistan’s laws are determined in accordance with Islamic rules and guidelines, and that an overwhelming majority of Afghans follow those rules.

“In the event of a conflict between international human rights law and Islamic law, the government is obliged to follow the Islamic law,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Taliban began carrying out such punishments shortly after coming to power almost two years ago, despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during their previous stint in power in the 1990s.

At the same time, they have gradually tightened restrictions on women, barring them from public spaces, such as parks and gyms, in line with their interpretation of Islamic law. The restrictions have triggered an international uproar, increasing the country’s isolation at a time when its economy has collapsed — and worsening a humanitarian crisis.

Monday’s report on corporal punishment documents Taliban practices both before and after their return to power in August 2021, when they seized the capital of Kabul as U.S. and NATO forces withdrew after two decades of war.

The first public flogging following the Taliban takeover was reported in October 2021 in the northern Kapisa province, the report said. In that case, a woman and man convicted of adultery were publicly lashed 100 times each in the presence of religious scholars and local Taliban authorities, it said.

In December 2022, Taliban authorities executed an Afghan convicted of murder, the first public execution since they took power the report said.

The execution, carried out with an assault rifle by the victim’s father, took place in the western Farah province before hundreds of spectators and top Taliban officials.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the top government spokesman, said the decision to carry out the punishment was “made very carefully,” following approval by three of the country’s highest courts and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.

There has been a significant increase in the number and regularity of judicial corporal punishment since November when Mujahid repeated comments by the supreme leader about judges and their use of Islamic law in a tweet, the report said.

Since that tweet, UNAMA documented at least 43 instances of public lashings involving 274 men, 58 women and two boys. A majority of punishments were related to convictions of adultery and “running away from home,” the report said. Other purported offenses included theft, homosexuality, consuming alcohol, fraud and drug trafficking.

In a video message, Abdul Malik Haqqani, the Taliban’s appointed deputy chief justice, said last week that the Taliban’s Supreme Court has issued 175 so-called retribution verdicts since taking power, including 79 floggings and 37 stonings.

Such verdicts establish the right of a purported victim, or relative of a victim of a crime to punish or forgive the perpetrator. Haqqani said the Taliban leadership is committed to carrying out such sentences.

After their initial overthrow in the U.S. invasion of 2001, the Taliban continued to carry out corporal punishment and executions in areas under their control while waging an insurgency against the U.S.-backed former Afghan government, the report said.

UNAMA documented at least 182 instances when the Taliban carried out their own sentences during the height of their insurgency between 2010 and August 2021, resulting in 213 deaths and 64 injuries.

Many Muslim-majority countries draw on Islamic law, but the Taliban interpretation is an outlier.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called a Taliban ban on women working an unacceptable violation of Afghan human rights.

On April 5, Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers informed the United Nations that Afghan women employed with the U.N. mission could no longer report for work. Aid agencies have warned that the ban on women working will impact their ability to deliver urgent humanitarian help in Afghanistan.

The Taliban previously banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade and women from most public life and work. In December, they banned Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental groups — a measure that at the time did not extend to U.N. offices.

Under the first Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, public corporal punishment and executions were carried out by officials against individuals convicted of crimes, often in large venues such as sports stadiums and at urban intersections.


US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, left, during the meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Ann...

Associated Press

US to open northernmost diplomatic post in Norway; only mission above Arctic Circle

OSLO, Norway (AP) — The United States will soon open a small diplomatic mission in Norway that will be its northernmost in the world and only such facility above the Arctic Circle, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday. The move, which Blinken announced at a news conference in Oslo after attending a NATO […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Farmer Pravinbhai Parmar cleans a solar panel installed at a farm in Dhundi village of Kheda...

Associated Press

India pauses plans to add new coal plants for five years, bets on renewables, batteries

BENGALURU, India (AP) — The Indian government will not consider any proposals for new coal plants for the next five years and focus on growing its renewables sector, according to an updated national electricity plan released Wednesday evening. The temporary pause in the growth of the dirty fuel was hailed by energy experts as a […]

23 hours ago

Associated Press

China criticizes US plan for trade deal with Taiwan

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government criticized the United States’ plans to sign a trade treaty with Taiwan and called on Washington on Thursday to stop official contact with the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory. The agreement due to be signed Thursday comes amid increased Chinese efforts to European politicians […]

23 hours ago

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, left, and Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada shake hand...

Associated Press

US defense chief calls China’s refusal to meet unfortunate during visit to Tokyo for talks

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stressed the importance of communication during a stopover with talks Thursday in Tokyo, calling it unfortunate that his Chinese counterpart refused to meet him at an annual security conference in Singapore, which both men are attending. On the way to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue Asian security […]

23 hours ago

Currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquart...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asia follows Wall St up on hopes Fed will ease off rate hikes

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher Friday ahead of an update on the U.S. jobs market after Federal Reserve officials reignited hopes another interest rate hike might be postponed and lawmakers gave final approval to a deal to avert a government debt default. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Oil […]

23 hours ago

Iranian cleric Sayed Mahdi Tabatabaei looks at stray dogs outside his shelter as they are being fed...

Associated Press

Defying taboos, Shiite cleric in Iran takes in street dogs and nurses them back to health

QOM, Iran (AP) — It’s rare these days for a turbaned cleric in Iran to attract a large following of adoring young fans on Instagram, but Sayed Mahdi Tabatabaei has done it by rescuing street dogs in defiance of a local taboo. Tabatabaei posts regularly — to his more than 80,000 followers — heartbreaking stories […]

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

UN urges Afghanistan’s Taliban to end floggings, executions