UN experts seek ‘immediate end’ to public floggings, executions by Taliban

In a statement on Friday, UN experts said they are deeply aggrieved about public execution and floggings that have resumed in Afghanistan, calling on the Taliban to “halt immediately” all forms of “torturous, cruel and degrading forms of punishments.”

“Since 18 November 2022, the de facto authorities have reportedly carried out floggings of over 100 individuals, both women and men, in several provinces including Takhar, Logar, Laghman, Parwan and Kabul,” the UN experts said.

“Each were given between 20 and 100 lashes for alleged crimes including theft, ‘illegitimate’ relationships or violating social behaviour codes,” they added.

The experts said that while criminalization of relationships outside of wedlock seems gender-neutral, in practice, “punishment is overwhelmingly directed against women and girls.”

The flogging has been carried out in stadiums in the presence of officials and members of the public.

On 7 December 2022, the Taliban publicly executed a man in Farah city, Farah province, in what appears to be the first public execution since seizing power in August 2021.

Senior Taliban officials, including the Taliban’s deputy prime minister and chief justice, were in attendance.

The application of these punishments began after Taliban supreme leader on 13 November ordered the judiciary to implement Hudood (crimes against God) and Qisas (retribution in kind) punishments across the country.

Public floggings and public executions violate universal principles prohibiting torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the experts said.

“Afghanistan is a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which prohibits torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment,” the experts said, adding that the public spectacle of these punishments make them especially distasteful and undignified.

“We are additionally raising doubts about the fairness of the trials preceding these punishments, which appear not to satisfy basic fair trial guarantees,” they said. “International human rights law prohibits the implementation of such cruel sentences, especially the death penalty, following trials that apparently do not offer the required fair trial guarantees.”

They called on Taliban authorities to immediately establish a moratorium on the death penalty, prohibit flogging and other physical punishments that constitute torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and guarantee a fair trial and due process in accordance with international standards.

“At all times, no matter the status of a person, they are entitled to dignity and respect,” they added.

In a recent incident, 12 people, including a woman, were flogged in public by the Taliban on Thursday on charges of different crimes.