Taliban admits to possible return of amputations, stonings and executions: ‘It is up to Islamic laws’

‘That is up to the religious followers and the courts. They will decide about the punishment’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Sunday 15 August 2021 16:47
Comments
Taliban spokesperson tells BBC they are 'awaiting a peaceful transfer of power'

Amputations, stonings and executions of criminals could return in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover, the organisation has admitted.

As its fighters prepared to assume power in Kabul, the militant Islamist group insisted it would protect the rights of women, the media and diplomats.

But, asked about violent punishment of offenders – a hallmark of brutal Taliban rule in the 1990s – a spokesman said: “That is up to the religious followers and the courts. They will decide about the punishment.”

Asked specifically about the chopping off of hands and feet, stonings and state killings, Suhail Shaheen told the BBC: “I can’t say right now. It is up to the courts and the judges and the laws.”

The comments came even as Mr Shaheen otherwise sought to calm fears about the return of the group to power, including that its leadership cannot control many of its fighters.

“We assure the people, particularly in the city of Kabul, that their properties, their lives are safe,” the spokesman said in the interview.

“Our leadership had instructed our forces to remain at the gates of Kabul, not to enter the city. We are awaiting a peaceful transfer of power” – adding the Taliban expected that to happen very soon.

Taliban rule became notorious for punishments including public executions for convicted murderers and amputations for people found guilty of theft.

Women were almost completely excluded from public life, such as employment and education, with girls aged 10 and over discouraged from going to school.

The militant group also banned television, music and cinema, and destroyed non-Islamic relics – such as in 2001, the famous Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan.

Horror stories have already emerged from areas that have fallen to Taliban insurgents in recent days.

Last month, fighters from the group walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in the southern city of Kandahar and ordered nine women working there to leave, so male relatives could take their place.

But, speaking live on a mobile phone to the BBC, Mr Shaheen said women “will have access to education and work” and be able to leave their homes without male accompaniment.

“We will respect rights of women – our policy is that women will have access to education and work, to wear the hijab,” he said.

The Taliban believed “no one should leave the country” because “we need all the talents and capacity, we need all of us to stay in the country and participate”.

Dominic Raab, the under-fire foreign secretary, is believed to be returning from a holiday, as the crisis deepens.

He tweeted he had “shared my deep concerns” with the Afghan foreign minister, adding: “Critical that the international community is united in telling the Taliban that the violence must end and human rights must be protected.”

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