Stoning adulterers dates back to the time of Jesus, but Afghanistan is planning to bring it back as a punishment for people who are caught in the act of being unfaithful.
The measure has sparked outrage from all corners of civilized society, especially human rights organization, which are denouncing the barbaric measure.
Leading the calls is Human Rights Watch, which reported from Kabul on Monday that the Afghan government is considering the return to Taliban-era stoning of adulterers and called on President Hamid Karzai to “reject this proposal out of hand,” according to the L.A. Times.
However, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry denied the rumors that the government was thinking about bringing back death by stoning for moral crimes.
Reuters quoted a member of the sharia law committee working on a new penal code, Rohullah Qarizada, as confirming that stoning of adulterers was a subject of discussion.
“We are working on the draft of a sharia 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, the Times reports.
There is more evidence that the Afghan government is actually considering stoning adulterers to death, as the British publication Guardian also reported that its correspondent in Kabul had seen the text of provisions in the drafted penal code defining adultery as a capital crime and calling for public execution by stoning for married offenders.
The Guardian published an excerpt of what they say is Article 21 of the new Afghan penal code:
“Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death].”
The new penal code will replace the 1976 version, which does not include stoning adulterers among the nation’s punishments.
Justice Ministry official Mohammad Ashraf Azimi told the Associated Press he has not seen this part of the new law people are discussing.
“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.” he said.
Humans Rights Watch along with other civil rights organizations are scrutinizing the drafting of the penal code to ensure Afghanistan follows international treaties and commitments, rectified by Karzai’s government, which prohibit cruel and unusual punishment for criminals.
“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch stated. “President Karzai needs to demonstrate at least a basic commitment to human rights and reject this proposal out of hand.”
Public stoning for adulterers were carried out by the Taliban between 1996 and 2001 and came to an end with the US invasion after 9/11.
However, reports have surfaced in the past 12 years, indicating that stoning adulterers is still very much alive in Taliban controlled areas of the country.