Taliban Executions Spark Legal and Human Rights Concerns


A convoy of Taliban fighters parading on Kabul streets, proudly displaying their official flag with inscriptions "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" and "There is no God but Allah, and Mohammad is the messenger of Allah." @AADIL for ADN

Ilhamuddin Afghan

In February, the Taliban carried out the execution of three individuals in northern Jawzjan and central Ghazni provinces, justifying their actions as retribution for murder. 

The public nature of these executions has ignited a wave of reactions, raising significant concerns about the legitimacy of the Taliban’s legal system and broader implications for human rights.

The central criticism revolves around the perceived absence of a formal legal structure, as the Taliban currently operates without written laws and lacks clear adherence to established principles.

This void prompts essential questions about the basis on which these executions are conducted, underscoring the necessity for a transparent and universally applicable legal framework.

Mahboob Shah, a former professor at Kabul University now in exile, highlights the sensitivity surrounding death penalties in the Islamic world. 

“In the broader Islamic context, the matter of executions and administering the death penalty is highly significant and sensitive. However, under the Taliban regime, there has been a surge in ad hoc courts and public executions. The absence of recognized constitutional or legal frameworks raises concerns about the legitimacy of these proceedings,” Shah said.

Critics argue that the Taliban’s legal system seems to be selectively applied, displaying a perceived bias towards sparing their own members from punishment, leading to accusations of justice being administered based on personal vendettas and interests.

Shah criticized the Taliban, pointing out that despite members being caught red-handed committing crimes with videos circulated on social media, none have faced punishment. In contrast, ordinary Afghan citizens are arrested for minor offenses and subjected to severe penalties, including execution or limb amputation.

Fatihullah, a former media activist in Kabul, questions the equitable application of “Qisas (retaliation in kind – or revenge) for all individuals, including members of the Taliban. 

“Implementing divine laws universally, irrespective of Talib or non-Talib status, would not be problematic. The issue arises from the execution of personal grievances under the guise of Qisas.” he said. 

The United Nations has strongly condemned these public executions, labeling them as appalling and expressing reservations about the transparency of Qisas in Islamic law. 

“The public nature of execution is extremely heinous, and we continue to stand against the use of the death penalty,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General said. 

The UN’s concerns align with past instances during the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, when they imposed various public punishments, including execution, hand amputation, and stoning, on ordinary citizens.

Experts argue that crime rates decrease when laws are uniformly applied to all individuals. Conversely, when laws favor the wealthy over poor people, crime levels tend to rise in society. Additionally, some contend that the absence of a legitimate government in Afghanistan contributes to a lack of respect for human rights.

Social affairs expert Muhammad Khan Sargand highlights the role of employment and occupation in reducing crime rates, emphasizing the link between unemployment, poverty, and criminal activities.

Ahmad Shah Bawar, 25, a resident of eastern Laghman province, sheds light on the prevalence of honor killing in remote areas with low literacy rates. He attributes such crimes to economic problems, poverty, and a lack of public awareness initiatives. Bawar stresses the urgent need for comprehensive efforts to address societal issues, family systems, and security, advocating for a multifaceted approach to prevent crimes. 

“Preventing crimes is better than severe punishment,” Bawar said.

Ilhamuddin Afghan is a university professor based in Afghanistan.

Note: The contents of the article are of sole responsibility of the author. Afghan Diaspora Network will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the articles.

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