Authorities in Afghanistan have executed a murder convict, the first public execution since the Taliban group returned to power last year, according to a government spokesman.
The announcement on Wednesday, December 7 underscored the intentions by Afghanistan’s new rulers to continue hard-line policies implemented since they took over the country in August 2021 and to stick to their interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia.
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The execution, carried out with an assault rifle by the victim’s father, took place in western Farah province before hundreds of spectators and more than a dozen senior Taliban officials, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, the top Taliban government spokesman. Some officials came from the capital Kabul.
The decision to carry out the punishment was “made very carefully,” Mujahid said, following approval by three of the country’s highest courts and the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada.
The executed man, identified as Tajmir from Herat province, was convicted of killing another man five years ago and stealing his motorcycle and mobile phone. The victim was identified as Mustafa from neighbouring Farah province. Many Afghan men use only one name.
Taliban security forces had arrested Tajmir after the victim’s family accused him of the crime, said a statement from Mujahid, the spokesman. The statement did not say when the arrest took place but said Tajmir had purportedly confessed to the killing. Mujahid added that Tajmir was shot three times by the victim’s father on Wednesday with an assault rifle.
The incident comes after Taliban leader Akhunzada last month ordered judges to fully enforce aspects of Islamic law that include public executions.
During the previous Taliban rule of the country in the late 1990s, the group carried out public executions, floggings and stoning of those convicted of crimes in Taliban courts.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed “deep concern” over the first confirmed public execution, spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay said Wednesday.
‘Shakes human conscience’
“I remember when they were implementing these punishments in their first stint, where they would announce for the public to gather,” rights activist Ogai Amil told AFP news agency.
She said Wednesday’s execution reminded her of those days, adding it “shakes the human conscience”.
“Why should it happen only in Afghanistan?” she asked.
After the group overran Afghanistan in 2021, in the final weeks of the United States and NATO forces’ pullout from the country after 20 years of war, the Taliban had initially promised to allow for women’s and minority rights.
Instead, they have restricted rights and freedoms, including imposing a ban on girls’ education beyond the sixth grade. They have also carried out public lashings across different provinces, punishing several men and women accused of theft, adultery or running away from home.
A spokesperson for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights last month called on the Taliban authorities to immediately halt the use of public floggings in Afghanistan.
The Taliban has struggled to govern amid an economic crisis worsened by its diplomatic isolation and international sanctions.