Human Rights Watch reported from Kabul yesterday that the Afghan government is pondering a return to Taliban-era punishment of adultery with death by stoning and called on President Hamid Karzai to “reject this proposal out of hand.”
A spokesman for the Justice Ministry denied that the government had proposed resuming public execution by stoning for moral crimes, The Associated Press reported.
But Reuters news agency quoted a member of the Shariah law committee working on a new penal code, Rohullah Qarizada, as confirming that the ancient punishment was a subject of discussion.
“We are working on the draft of a Shariah penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning,” said Qarizada, who is also head of the Afghan Independent Bar Association.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper also reported that its correspondent in Kabul had seen the text of provisions in the draft penal code defining adultery as a capital crime and calling for public execution by stoning for married offenders.
“Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning (to death),” Article 21 of the draft code states, the Guardian reported. It said another section of the proposed code calls for sentences to be carried out in public.
Work on the new penal code, to replace a 1976 version that doesn’t include stoning among its prescribed punishments, is expected to take at least two years to complete and bring into force, Justice Ministry official Mohammad Ashraf Azimi told the AP.
“As a member of the department for the punishment laws, I haven’t seen this part of the law they are mentioning,” Azimi said of the Human Rights Watch complaint. “I don’t know where they found it and why they are emphasizing it. We are the people working on it and we haven’t seen it.”