UN ‘Appalled’ by Taliban-Ordered Public Executions in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD — The United Nations is urging the Taliban government in Afghanistan to immediately cease “inhuman” public executions and floggings of individuals convicted of murder and other crimes.

The condemnation comes as Taliban authorities put to death three men by gunfire in Afghan sports stadiums across several cities in the past week in the presence of hundreds of onlookers.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Office, or OHCHR, said that it was “appalled” by the public executions, decrying them as “a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The Taliban have publicly executed five convicted killers since they seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021 and have also flogged hundreds of people, including women, for committing crimes such as theft, robbery, and adultery.

The U.N. statement noted that the latest public floggings took place this past Sunday when a 12-year-old boy and a man were publicly flogged for the crime of immorality in eastern Laghman province. On the same day, a woman and a man convicted of running away from home and adultery were flogged 35 times in public in northern Baluch province.

“Corporal punishment also constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is prohibited under international human rights law,” the U.N. cautioned.

It urged the fundamentalist Taliban to ensure full respect for due process and fair trial rights, in particular access to legal representation, for anyone confronted with criminal charges.

De facto Afghan authorities have dismissed criticism of their criminal justice system, saying it is aligned with Islamic rules and guidelines.

The Taliban have imposed sweeping restrictions on women’s rights to education and public life, barring female visitors from parks and gyms and forbidding girls from attending schools beyond the sixth grade.

The international community has rejected the Taliban’s calls for granting their administration formal recognition, citing their treatment of Afghan women and other human rights concerns.

Richard Bennett, the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, will unveil the findings of his new report at Thursday’s U.N. Human Rights Council meeting.

In an apparent preemptive reaction to the upcoming report, chief Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that Bennett and other Western critics should stop “misusing” the Afghan human rights situation and instead focus on and stop rights abuses elsewhere in the world.

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