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Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Comment by UN Human Rights spokesperson Jeremy Laurence on public executions in Afghanistan

28 February 2024

Afghan men leaving a football stadium after attending the public execution by Taliban authorities of two men convicted of murder, in Ghazni. February 22, 2024. © Photo by AFP

Geneva, 28 February 2024

We are appalled by the public executions of three people at sports stadiums in Afghanistan in the past week. The executions in Ghazni and Sheberghan cities were carried out in the presence of de facto court and other officials, as well as members of the public. The convicted individuals were reportedly shot multiple times.

Since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, five people have been publicly executed further to decisions of the de facto judicial system and approved by the Taliban leader. Public executions are a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Such executions are also arbitrary in nature and contrary to the right to life protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a State party. They must cease immediately.

The de facto authorities also continue to implement judicial corporal punishment in public. On 25 February, in Laghman, in the east, a 12-year-old boy and a man were flogged for the crime of immorality, again in public and in the presence of de facto officials. On the same day, in Balkh province in the northwest, a woman and a man convicted of running away from home and adultery were publicly flogged 35 times. Corporal punishment also constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is prohibited under international human rights law.

Given these serious concerns, we urge the de facto authorities to establish an immediate moratorium on any further executions, and to act swiftly to prohibit use of the death penalty in its entirety. Corporal punishment must also cease. More generally, we call on the de facto authorities to ensure full respect for due process and fair trial rights, in particular access to legal representation, for anyone confronted with criminal charges.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] 
Liz Throssell - + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] 
Jeremy Laurence - +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected]

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