Death by stoning for convicted adulterers is being written into Afghan law, a senior official has said, the latest sign that human rights won at great cost since the Taliban were ousted in 2001 are rolling back as foreign troops withdraw.
"We are working on the draft of a sharia penal code where the punishment for adultery, if there are four eyewitnesses, is stoning," said Rohullah Qarizada, who is part of the sharia Islamic law committee working on the draft and head of the Afghan Independent Bar Association.
Billions have been invested on promoting human rights in Afghanistan over more than 12 years of war and donors fear that hard won progress, particularly for women, may be eroding.
During the Taliban's 1996-2001 time in power, convicted adulterers were routinely shot or stoned in executions held mostly on Fridays. Women were not permitted to go out on their own, girls were barred from schools and men were obliged to grow long beards.
Providing fresh evidence popular support for the brutal punishment has endured, two lovers narrowly escaped being stoned in Baghlan province north of Kabul, but were publicly shot over the weekend instead, officials said.
"While they were fleeing, suddenly their car crashed and locals arrested them. People wanted to stone them on the spot but some elders disagreed," the provincial head of women's affairs, Khadija Yaqeen, told Reuters yesterday.
"The next day they decided and shot both of them dead in public. Our findings show that the woman's father had ordered to shoot both man and woman."
"It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.