Oct. 9 (Bloomberg) — The execution of 15 prisoners in Afghanistan, the second confirmed use of the death penalty since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, is a concern, the United Nations envoy in the country said.
The UN has been “a staunch supporter of the moratorium on executions” that President Hamid Karzai imposed in recent years, Tom Koenigs, head of the world body’s Mission in Afghanistan, said yesterday.
The prisoners, one of whom was convicted of killing three foreign journalists, were shot by firing squad on Oct. 7 outside Kabul, Agence France-Presse reported, citing state television.
Public executions, including beheadings and shootings, were common during the Taliban’s rule of the South Asian nation between 1996 and 2001. Crime has surged in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban, according to AFP.
This week’s executions were carried out in accordance with Islamic Sharia law and are a lesson to others who are taking advantage of unrest in the country, AFP cited state broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) as saying.
Koenigs called on Afghanistan to “continue working toward attaining the highest human rights standards and ensuring that due process of law and the rights of all citizens are respected,” according to a statement on the UN Web site.
Among those executed was Reza Khan, who was convicted of killing three foreign journalists traveling to Kabul from Pakistan in 2001 to report on the ousting of the Taliban, AFP cited the broadcaster as saying. A man identified only as Farhad was executed after being convicted for murder and the May 2005 abduction of Italian aid worker Clementina Cantoni, who was later freed, AFP reported.
The Taliban movement issued a statement condemning the government for carrying out the executions during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to AFP. The Taliban has carried out suicide bomb attacks during Ramadan, the news service said.
The last known execution by Karzai’s government was in April 2004, when military commander Abdullah Shah was shot dead after being convicted of several murders, AFP reported.
The Taliban stepped up its insurgency in Afghanistan’s southern and eastern provinces last year in response to military operations led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.