Afghanistan: Public execution sparks worldwide outcry

File photo.

The first public Qisas or retributive execution, by the Taliban under Sharia law, of a man accused of murder in western Farah province in Afghanistan, has sparked an international outcry with the UN stating the move was “deeply disturbing”.

Tajmir, who was convicted of stabbing a man to death six years ago, was shot dead by the victim’s father on Wednesday, at a stadium in front of about one thousand spectators including high-ranking Taliban officials.

Among the officials who were spectators to the execution were Taliban deputy chief minister Mullah Baradar, Taliban supreme court chief Abdul Hakim Haqqani, Taliban interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Taliban minister of vice and virtue Mohammad Khalid Hanafi, Taliban justice minister Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Sharaee, and Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

Just hours after the killing, the UN human rights office said that the execution was “deeply disturbing” while the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it “strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.”

UNAMA also called on the Taliban to establish an immediate moratorium to abolish the death penalty.

Denouncing the execution, the US said that the Taliban’s “despicable” public execution indicates that the group is seeking to “return to their regressive and abusive practices of the 1990s.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price, in a press briefing on Wednesday, said: “We’ve seen despicable videos that have circulated online in recent days regarding some of these tactics. It was an affront to the dignity and the human rights of all Afghans then; it would be an affront to the dignity and the human rights of all Afghans now.”

“It is a clear failure by the Taliban to uphold their promises,” Price told reporters.

Chargé d’Affaires of the UK Embassy to Afghanistan, Hugo Shorter, stated that he was concerned over the Taliban’s “inhumane and retrograde” step. “The UK opposes the death penalty in all circumstances,” Shorter added.

Meanwhile, a number of people in Afghanistan believe that public execution will harm the mental well-being of the people.

Abdul Qadir, a Farah resident who witnessed the execution, said: “Murder, execution, stoning, flogging in public and in front of people have caused mental problems [among the people]. And those who witnessed the act [execution] now suffer mental problems.”

Qadir told Amu TV that the public executions could promote violence and cause an increase in crime, and that “the public should not have to witness such actions by the Taliban”.

Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency meanwhile reported that the group’s interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani provided Tajmir’s family with 100,000 AFN in assistance.