Global Outcry As Human Rights Organizations Condemn Taliban’s Action of Publicly Executing A Man

Credit: Afghanistan International

The latest: There has been a massive global outcry against the Taliban’s public execution of a murder accused on December 7. From Amnesty International calling it “cruel, inhuman and degrading”, the UN rights office called it “deeply disturbing”.

Go deeper:

  • What is believed to be the first public execution in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power last year, drew criticism from the UN human rights office, OHCHR. Spokesperson Jeremy Laurence described it as a “deeply disturbing” development.
  • Moreover, he added, it was performed in the presence of local residents and some senior members of the de-facto authorities.
  • Reminding that public executions constitute a form of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, he stressed that they are “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”.
  • The death penalty is incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights, and its use cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life, said OHCHR’s Jeremy Laurence. “We urge the de facto authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on any further executions, and act swiftly to prohibit use of the death penalty in its entirety”.
  • UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep concern” about the execution, according to spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay. “We call for a return to the moratorium on the death penalty” in Afghanistan, she said.
  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also echoed that message on social media. “The UN strongly opposes the death penalty in all circumstances”, it tweeted, urging the Taliban to establish and immediate moratorium on executions, “with a view to abolishing the death penalty”.
  • Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for South Asia, said, “The deplorable return of public executions in Afghanistan is the latest phase in Taliban’s alarming abuse of human rights in the country. They continue to flagrantly flout human rights principles with complete disregard for international human rights law.
  • “Carrying out executions in public adds to the already cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of the death penalty and can only have a dehumanising effect on the victim and a brutalising effect on those who witness the execution. Such public displays of killing perpetuate a culture of acceptance of violence, rather than a belief in justice.
  • “All executions violate the right to life. Those carried out publicly are a gross affront to human dignity which cannot be tolerated. This retrograde step by the Taliban is a major step back for human rights.”
  • France also condemned in the strongest possible terms the public execution by the Taliban in Afghanistan. This horrific action comes in addition to the many other violations of fundamental rights and freedoms committed by the Taliban against Afghan men and women since they took power by force in August 2021. France also reiterated its unwavering opposition to the death penalty.

Back story: In recent weeks, the country’s supreme court has announced a return to public lashings of men and women, for offences such as robbery and adultery.

  • The Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada issued the edict last month, ordering judges to impose punishments that may include public executions, public amputations and stoning.
  • While several public floggings have been carried out recently – including that of a dozen people before a crowded football stadium in Logar province last month – it marks the first time the Taliban have publicly acknowledged carrying out an execution.

Zoom out: This comes even as Taliban called it retribution and said that the man convicted of murder was shot by his victim’s father. The father of the victim shot the man three times during the execution, a later statement from the Taliban spokesperson said.

  • The murdered man’s mother told the BBC that Taliban leaders had pleaded with her to forgive the man, but she had insisted upon his execution.
  • “Taliban came to me and begged me to forgive this infidel,” she said. “They insist me to forgive this man in sake of God, but I told them that this man must be executed and must be buried the same as he did to my son. “This could be a lesson to other people,” she added. “If you do not execute him he will commit other crimes in the future.”
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