Kabul draft plan to bring back stoning

By Rob Crilly

Human rights - and women's rights, in particular - have frequently been cited as a measure of progress under Hamid Karzai's Government.
Human rights - and women's rights, in particular - have frequently been cited as a measure of progress under Hamid Karzai's Government.

Afghanistan plans to reintroduce public stoning as a punishment for adultery 12 years after the Taliban was ousted, according to a new draft penal code.

The move has shocked human rights campaigners and will dismay donors who have poured billions into helping to rebuild the country.

It will be viewed as another backwards step at the end of a year that has seen women's rights undermined, with a slew of legislation and the murders of prominent women.

The draft - devised by a working group led by the Justice Ministry - states that unmarried adulterers should be subject to 100 lashes. If they are married, the punishment should be stoning in a public place.

Critics have warned that progress is being undermined in an attempt to placate conservative power brokers and maybe even pave the way for a deal with the Taliban as Nato forces leave the country during the next year.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for international donors to withhold funding if the Government goes ahead with the plan.

Death by stoning was used as a punishment for adultery during Taliban rule, a brutal period which included bans on radio, television and music, and ended in 2001 when Nato forces seized Kabul.

Since then, human rights - and women's rights, in particular - have frequently been cited as a measure of progress under Hamid Karzai's Government.

His Government signed up to international human rights conventions.

In May, the country's lower chamber revised electoral law, ditching the guarantee that at least a quarter of seats in each of 34 provincial councils be reserved for women.

And Parliament has never ratified a long-awaited law setting penalties for rape, child marriage and the giving of girls to resolve disputes.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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