Public flogging returns to Afghanistan

Published November 27th, 2022 - 09:14 GMT
Afghan women
Afghan fighters fire to disperse women (AFP File Photo)

The Taliban fired back at the United Nations on Saturday after the U.N. Human Rights Office criticized Afghanistan's first public flogging in decades.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for Afghanistan's government, called the agency's condemnation of the floggings "disrespectful" to Islam.

The Taliban lashed the 14 people in an outdoor stadium in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, marking a return to public punishment by the Islamic fundamentalist group, which seized power once again in August 2021.

Corporal punishment in sports venues was common when the regime last ruled the country in the 1990s.

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"The U.N. Human Rights Office is appalled by mass floggings in public by the de facto authorities of 14 people in Logar province on Wednesday, and calls for this abhorrent form of punishment to cease immediately," the agency said in its statement issued Friday by spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

"Corporal punishment constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is prohibited under both the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Afghanistan is a state party to both," the U.N. statement continued.

The agency added that it has documented numerous cases of public punishment in Afghanistan, often for alleged violations of religious codes.

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"Countries and organizations should not allow people to make irresponsible and provocative statements on their behalf about the blessed religion of Islam," Mujahid tweeted Saturday.

The 14 Afghanis, including three women, were lashed "in the presence of scholars, authorities and people ... for different sins including adultery, robbery and other forms of corruption," the Taliban's Supreme Court said.

The Taliban has slowly and steadily increased its strict interpretation of Islamic law since returning to power. Despite initial promises to the contrary, the group has curtailed human rights and imposed restrictions on women such as blocking teenage girls from getting an education.

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