Taliban defends “barbaric” punishments, rejects UN call for respecting human rights

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesperson, has reacted to the newly published report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) which reveals the extent of the group’s use of corporal punishments.

UNAMA called on the group to stop the use of corporal punishments, including executions, stoning and flogging and respect human rights and international law.

“UNAMA’s recent claims and concerns about the functioning of the courts and the enforcement of Sharia law in Afghanistan are baseless.” Mujahid said in a tweet on Monday.

“It is a fact that the judicial system in Afghanistan has been strengthened compared to the past and justice has been ensured and the rights of the citizens have been given in the light of Islamic rules.”

The Taliban flogged 9 women and 14 men in Sar-e-Pul province. Photo: Social Media

The UNAMA report report documents several forms of punishment, including lashings/floggings, stoning, beatings, forcing people to stand in cold water, and forced head shaving, among others. It notes that 276 men, 58 women, and two boys were publicly flogged in the last six months, with up to 40 lashes per convicted person, but 80-100 lashes in some cases.

Reacting to the report, Human Rights Watch’s Associate Asia Director, Patricia Gossman, condemned that Taliban’s abuses and said:

“So long as the Taliban shows disdain for international human rights law, these barbaric practices are likely to continue. Governments engaging with the Taliban, including UN Security Council members, should press for an end to these abuses and make clear that international sanctions will remain in place and could be expanded if they continue.”

In January 9 men were flogged in front of a large crowd inside a football stadium in Kandahar, the group’s birthplace and home to its supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.

Since returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban has made corporal punishments, especially flogging, a public spectacle.