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UN calls on Taliban to end corporal punishment in Afghanistan

“Corporal punishment is a violation of the Convention against Torture and must cease,” said UNAMA’s human rights chief Fiona Frazer, stressing that the UN is “strongly opposed” to the death penalty.

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She called on the de facto authorities to establish an “immediate moratorium” on executions.

Flogging and stoning

In a new report, UNAMA said that it had documented “a range of forms of corporal punishment” carried out by the Taliban since their return to power on 15 August 2021 after dislodging the democratically-elected Government, “including lashings or floggings, stoning, forcing people to stand in cold water, and forced head shaving”. In the last six months alone, 274 men, 58 women and two boys have been publicly flogged.

According to the report, the legal system in Afghanistan is currently “failing to safeguard minimum fair trial and due process guarantees”.

UNAMA warned that the Taliban’s refusal to grant licences to women defence lawyers and the exclusion of women judges from the judicial system are impacting women and girls’ access to justice.

Violating international law

Corporal punishment has been defined as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light”.

The prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is considered a fundamental principle of international law, the report reiterated.

Sentenced to ‘100 lashes’

Between 15 August 2021 and 12 November 2022 alone, UNAMA documented at least 18 instances of judicial corporal punishment carried out by de facto provincial, district and appeals courts.

“Within the 18 documented instances, 33 men and 22 women were punished, including two girls; the vast majority of punishments, for both men and women, related to adultery or ‘running away from home’ and all women and girls who were punished were reportedly convicted of such offences,” the report showed.

In general, punishments consisted of 30 to 39 lashes for each convicted person. However, “in some cases, people received as many as 80 to 100 lashes”, according to the report.

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