The Death Penalty in Afghanistan
Developments during the last years
Due to the uncertain political situation caused by the Taliban, there are hardly any binding figures on death sentences imposed and carried out. Executions in Afghanistan are very often carried out in a completely arbitrary manner. Conditions of detention, trials and court proceedings therefore do not meet international standards, and sentences are based on confessions forced by torture, unclear accusations and vague crimes.
Execution method and crimes punishable by death
The death penalty in Afghanistan is usually carried out by hanging or shooting.
Crimes punishable by death include: murder, adultery, homosexuality, renunciation of the Islamic faith, or terrorist activities. Other “moral” offenses, such as “running away” from home (this particularly affects women and girls), are also on the punishment list.
Both civil and Islamic law apply in the Islamic Republic. Therefore, Islamic courts exist in addition to secular courts.
Executions in Afghanistan during the last 10+ years
According to Amnesty International (AI), at least 15 people were executed in Afghanistan in 2008. However, the number of unreported cases is estimated to be higher. In 2012, according to the government’s own figures, 14 people sentenced to death were hanged in state prison. AI puts the number of executions for 2014 at at least 6 people. For 2015, “only” one execution has been officially announced, when Raees Khudaidad was executed on February 28, 2015. At the end of 2015, nearly 400 people sentenced to death by President Ghani were in prison.
The year 2015 was considered one of the darkest in Afghanistan due to the country’s insecure situation. UNAMA (Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) announced 1592 civilians killed and over 3000 injured due to the unrest. Amnesty International attributes 70 percent of all deaths to Taliban attacks.
On May 8, 2016, the Government of Afghanistan announced the executions of six men. Those convicted were reportedly terrorists and supporters of the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Haqqari. Afghanistan’s president had previously announced that he would apply tougher measures to combat terrorism. The executions had been declared as a retaliatory strike in the wake of the April 19, 2016, suicide bombing by the Taliban. The attack had killed 58 civilians and injured more than 350 others.
A total of five executions were officially announced for 2017. In 2018, three executions were expected, as well as at least 343 prisoners on death row.
Sources and further information:
2015 Annual Death Penalty Report (p.60 – p.64) / 2016 Annual Death Penalty Report / 2017 Annual Death Penalty Report by Amnesty International;“The death penalty will not deliver security in Afghanistan,” Amnesty International USA press release, May 9, 2016;“News Afghanistan,” United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR), May 10, 2016
As of February 2020