UN ‘appalled’ at public floggings, executions in Afghanistan

Feb 28, 2024

A revival of Taliban-ordered public executions with gunfire taking place in sports stadiums in several cities in Afghanistan “must cease immediately”, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said Wednesday.

“We are appalled by the public executions of three people at sports stadiums in Afghanistan in the past week,” said OHCHR spokesperson Jeremy Laurence in a statement.

“Public executions are a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” he said.

“Such executions are also arbitrary in nature and contrary to the right to life protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a State party. They must cease immediately.”

The executions in Ghazni and Sheberghan cities were carried out in the presence of de facto court and other officials, as well as members of the public. The convicted individuals were reportedly shot multiple times, the Office reported.

Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, five people have been publicly executed further to decisions of the de facto judicial system and approved by the Taliban leader.

“Given these serious concerns, we urge the de facto authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on any further executions, and to act swiftly to prohibit use of the death penalty in its entirety,” the Office spokesperson said.

“The de facto authorities also continue to implement judicial corporal punishment in public,” the spokesperson said, adding that it also constituted a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which was prohibited under international human rights law.

Citing two recent incidents that happened on Sunday, he said that in Laghman, in the east, a 12-year-old boy and a man were flogged for the crime of immorality, again in public and in the presence of de facto officials. On the same day, in Balkh province in the northwest, a woman and a man convicted of running away from home and adultery were publicly flogged 35 times.

Corporal punishment must cease, he said.

“More generally, we call on the de facto authorities to ensure full respect for due process and fair trial rights, in particular access to legal representation, for anyone confronted with criminal charges,” the spokesperson said.