Outcry as Afghans execute 14 in 2 days

2012-11-21 20:25
Afghan President Hamid Karzai listens to opening remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting to repair relations in Washington. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai listens to opening remarks by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting to repair relations in Washington. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

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Kabul - Six men were hanged Wednesday in Kabul, an official said, bringing the number of men executed in two days to 14.

The rare death penalties, which were signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday, were carried out despite a public outcry and criticism from rights groups and the Taliban.

"Six criminals who had committed crimes to help insurgents in bombings and killing Afghan security forces were executed this afternoon by the president's order in Kabul," an official said on condition of anonymity.

He did not specify the place of the execution, but another official said they were hanged in Kabul's main Pul-e-Charkhi prison.

More men were to be executed in the coming days, an official said, though it was not clear how many.

Those executed on Tuesday were mostly convicted of rape and murder.

The Taliban accused the government of executing "prisoners of war," saying they had evidence that a number of their members were on the list of those sentenced to death.

If the "prisoners of war" were executed there would be "heavy repercussions" for lawmakers, courts and Kabul administration officials, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahed said in a statement.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [a name the Taliban use to refer to themselves] asks the United Nations, Islamic Conference and the International Red Cross committee to prevent Kabul administration's action," he said.

Surge

The non-governmental organisation Human Rights Watch asked the government to end its "sudden surge of executions and institute a moratorium on further executions."

"On 20 November 2012, the Afghan government executed eight people, ending a four-year virtual moratorium on the use of the death penalty, during which only two people were reportedly executed," the organisation said in a statement.

"The eight hangings in a single day are a terrible step backwards for Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai should stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium," it said.

Rights campaign group Amnesty International also called on Karzai to halt the executions.

"The sheer number of people who could be killed by the state is a particularly shocking use of what is the ultimate cruel and inhuman form of punishment," said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International's spokesperson for the Asia-Pacific region.

"The death penalty should never be used to achieve political gain or popularity," she said.

The group also said there were reportedly some 200 prisoners on death row in Afghanistan.

Last year, two people - one Pakistani and one Afghan - were sentenced to death and executed after they killed more than 40 people in a Kabul bank siege.

Unconfirmed reports said an Afghan soldier who killed five French soldiers earlier this year was on the list of those sentenced to death. None of the officials were able to confirm this.Author: Hafiz Rahsepar, Subel Bhandari

- SAPA
Read more on:    amnesty international  |  human rights watch  |  hamid karzai  |  afghanistan
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