Rahmat Gul/AP

Taliban’s Reign of Terror: UN report exposes executions, stonings, and floggings

The United Nations Assistant Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has published a report on Monday detailing the corporal punishments and death sentences carried out by the Taliban since its return to power in August 2021.

The 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.

The report has documented at least 18 instances of judicial corporal punishment carried out by Taliban’s Provincial, District, and Appeals Courts between 15 August 2021 and 12 November 2022. The majority of punishments, for both men and women, related to zina, adultery, or “running away from home,” and all women and girls who were punished were convicted of such offenses.

The report also highlights that LGBTIQ individuals punished for the “offence of homosexuality [in the country] are also likely to be at higher risk of harm if their punishment is known to their families and communities.”

The Taliban Supreme Court’s deputy, Abdul Malek Haqqani, previously announced in a video statement that the court has issued 175 qisas, 37 stonings, and four sentences of knocking down a wall on the convicts, though the latter is not documented in the UNAMA report.

The report further documents one instance of hanging by the Taliban in December 2021, where a man convicted of murder was publicly executed in Farah province after being shot three times by the murdered father’s victim. Another case of non-judicial execution was recorded in February in Badakhshan province, where the de facto District Governor “ordered the stoning of a woman and man accused of adultery,” detained a day earlier.

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

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.”

UNAMA has recorded at least seven instances in Herat province in which the dead bodies of those killed were publicly displayed by the Taliban, including the corpse of an alleged man accused of and executed for kidnapping a child on 16 March 2022.

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.

The report notes that most cases of these punishments were made public via social media announcements by the Taliban’s Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice officials, such as Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s Provincial Governor of Kandahar.

The report has elicited strong responses from the international community, with the Chief UNAMA Human Rights, Fiona Frazer, stating that “Corporal punishment is a violation of the Convention against Torture & must cease. The UN is strongly opposed to the death penalty & encourages the DFA to establish an immediate moratorium on executions.”

The UNAMA report has urged the Taliban to “engage with and respond to the report” and called for more respect for international human rights standards.