1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Afghanistan

Taliban chief orders change in mode of executions

Since their overthrow in late 2001 Taliban fighters have maintained an increasingly violent insurgency in many parts of Afghanistan.
(Abdullah Shaheen/IRIN)

The fugitive leader of Afghan Taliban insurgents, Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, has ordered his fighters to stop beheading people accused of spying for the government of President Karzai and international forces - and kill them, instead, by gunshots and/or hanging, a purported Taliban spokesman has told the media. 
[Read this report in Arabic]

The move comes after strong condemnation of the Taliban at home and abroad for their beheadings.

Video clips showing horrific scenes of human decapitations and other forms of severe physical torture had been circulated by the insurgents, apparently in an effort to threaten people who support and/or work with the Afghan government and its international supporters.
Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and other international rights watchdogs have repeatedly accused Taliban insurgents of deliberately attacking civilians and systematically violating international humanitarian law.
“No more beheadings”

"Mullah Omar's order is effective immediately and there will be no more beheadings by the Taliban," Zabiullah Mujahid, who claims to be a spokesman for Taliban fighters, told IRIN on the phone from an unspecified location.
About 100 people have been beheaded by Taliban insurgents on charges of espionage in the past 12 months, a leading Afghan news agency, Pajwhok, reported on 4 February.
Four employees of a local construction company were reportedly kidnapped and then beheaded by gunmen associated with Taliban insurgents in Nooristan Province, eastern Afghanistan, in the last week of January, Afghanistan's Interior Ministry said in a press release on 30 January.
Thousands of people, including many civilians, lost their lives in suicide attacks, roadside explosions and other insurgency-related violence in 2007, the government of Afghanistan and the UN reported.
War crime
The deliberate killing of noncombatants on charges of spying and/or disloyalty, without a fair and just trial, is a war crime and cannot be justified by a change in mode of execution, said Farid Hamidi, a member of the AIHRC in Kabul.
"The right to life is enshrined in the constitution of Afghanistan and no one can deny that without a legitimate and lawful reason," said Hamidi. "Islamic Sharia also prohibits illegal and extra-judicial killings of civilians," he said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.