Amnesty International has condemned the first confirmed Taliban executions by stoning carried out in Afghanistan since 2001.
A couple were stoned to death on Sunday (15 August) for “eloping” in a Taliban-controlled village in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan.
The stoning came two days after Afghanistan’s highest Islamic religious body, the Council of Ulema, called on the government to more strictly enforce physical shariah punishments, known as hudood, as a concession to the Taliban in an attempt to end the war. Under the Taliban, hudood punishments included public stoning, amputations and lashing.
The Taliban believe in an extreme and literalistic application of shariah law. The majority of Muslim scholars insist that such an interpretation misses the point of the basic nature of shariah, which is intended to be related to context and carefully applied.
Amnesty has warned that the Afghan government should not sacrifice human rights, particularly the rights of women and minorities, in the name of reconciliation with the Taliban and other groups. The organisation has recently called on the Afghan government to seek the assistance of the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Taliban and all other parties to the war in Afghanistan.
“The stoning of this couple is a heinous crime,” said Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific Director Sam Zarifi, “The Taliban and other insurgent groups are growing increasingly brutal in their abuses against Afghans”.
Zarifi added, ““The Afghan government and the Council of Ulema must condemn the use of stoning following this sickening Taliban execution. Afghan leaders must stand against stoning and other appalling human rights abuses masquerading as ‘justice’, no matter how much pressure they are under to deal with the Taliban.”
This stoning is the first to be confirmed in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. It is likely to be seen as a failure of the invading armies’ apparent intention of bringing democracy to the country through force.
Local sources told Amnesty that the couple had eloped to Pakistan, but returned to their village of Mullah Qulli in Archi district of Kunduz after being told that their families had agreed to marry them. Instead, they were stoned to death on 15 August by a Taliban council.
On 9 August, a woman in Badghis province was shot dead in public by the Taliban for alleged adultery. Meanwhile, in 2005 a case of stoning for adultery in Afghanistan was reported, allegedly ordered by local religious leaders, although Amnesty say that they have not independently verified this case.