Afghanistan considers reintroducing stoning, flogging for adulterers

Adghanistan is considering bringing back stoning-to-death for adultery, Human Rights Watch and the justice ministry says, possibly restoring a punishment in force during the Taliban's brutal regime.

The penalty for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country's penal code being considered by the ministry of justice. Ashraf Azimi, the head of ministry's criminal law department, confirmed to AFP that stoning to death is included in the draft.

The draft provisions state that the 'implementation of stoning shall take place in public in a predetermined location'. "We are working on the draft of a sharia penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning," said Rohullah Qarizada, who is part of the sharia Islamic law committee working on the draft and head of the Afghan Independent Bar Association.

If the "adulterer or adulteress is unmarried", the sentence shall be "whipping 100 lashes".

"It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment," Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said.

"President (Hamid) Karzai needs to demonstrate at least a basic commitment to human rights and reject this proposal out of hand." In Afghanistan, an extremely conservative Muslim country, extramarital sex and sex before marriage are taboo and can lead to bloody conflicts between families.

HRW pointed out that $A17 billion in aid promised to Afghanistan last year was tied to progress on human rights issues. "Donors need to make clear that international support to Afghanistan's government is not a blank cheque," Adams said.

Azimi told AFP the new law was less than halfway finished. "The ministry of justice along with other Afghan judicial organs are working on a law to punish those who commit adultery, robbery and alcohol-drinking according to Islamic sharia law," he said.

During the Taliban's 1996-2001 time in power, convicted adulterers were routinely shot or stoned in executions held mostly on Fridays. Women were not permitted to go out on their own, girls were barred from schools and men were obliged to grow long beards.


In stoning to death, the victims hands are tied behind their backs and their bodies are put in a cloth sack. Then they are buried in a hole, with only the victims heads showing above the ground. If the victim is female, she is buried up to her shoulders. This is to give her an seemingly equal (but nonetheless impossible) chance to escape recognising her lesser physical strength. After the victim has been secured in the hole, the public start chanting "Allah hu Akbar" (meaning, God is great), and throw palm sized stones at the head of the victim from a certain distance. The stoning continues until the victim dies of blood loss. Stoning to death is a slow and agonising death.

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