Afghanistan: UN condemns Taliban’s resurgence of public executions

The United Nations human rights office expressed deep concern Wednesday over the resurgence of public executions by the Taliban in Afghanistan, calling for an immediate halt to these practices.

Public executions, recently carried out in sports stadiums in cities like Ghazni and Sheberghan, were described as “appalling” by Jeremy Laurence, a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Public executions are a form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” Laurence stated, emphasizing their arbitrary nature and violation of the right to life under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a signatory.

The OHCHR reported that the executions were conducted in the presence of de facto court and other officials, along with public spectators, with the convicted individuals being shot multiple times. Since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, there have been five public executions following decisions by the de facto judicial system and approval by the Taliban leader.

The UN office urged the Taliban to immediately establish a moratorium on executions and to abolish the death penalty altogether.

Additionally, the OHCHR criticized the ongoing use of public flogging as judicial corporal punishment, highlighting recent incidents in Laghman and Balkh provinces where individuals were publicly flogged for crimes of immorality and adultery. Such practices, according to the spokesperson, also constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment and are prohibited under international human rights law.

The UN office called on the Taliban to respect due process and fair trial rights, including access to legal representation for those facing criminal charges, and to cease all forms of corporal punishment immediately.