Afghanistan’s justice system is returning to a pre-U.S. form of barbarism as suspected criminals are subject to being strung up in public spaces under the rule of the Taliban.
The Associated Press, citing a witness within the country, reported that in the major city of Herat in western Afghanistan, an alleged kidnapper was killed by gunfire and then hanged from a crane on Saturday.
A man who operates a pharmacy in the city told the AP that the Taliban was responsible for securing a man’s body to the crane and then displaying it in the city’s main square.
Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi said that four men were killed during an attempted kidnapping. He added that one of the men was hanged in the Herat main square.
The other bodies were dragged away to be displayed in other areas of the city, he said.
Such displays were once common under the Taliban’s previous rule over the country. But the 2001 U.S. ground invasion of Afghanistan put hard-line Islamists on the ropes.
Throughout the last two decades, many Afghans have enjoyed a relatively westernized system of justice. But Herat was taken by the Taliban in mid-August, as were many other areas.
With Sharia law in place across the country, or set to be enacted, public and brutal displays are resuming.
A high-ranking Taliban official and the enforcer of its view on justice told the AP on Friday that people accused of crimes will not be subject to a system of due process common in westernized countries.
Public executions, torture and amputations for shoplifters are going to be used, said Mullah Nooruddin Turabi.
Turabi carried out enforcement of the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Sharia law in the 1990s. He brushed off criticism about his use of public spaces to punish accused criminals in the past.
In the 1990s, he and others in power sometimes used a Kabul stadium for executions and amputations, the AP noted.
“Everyone criticized us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments,” Turabi said during an interview with the AP. “No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam and we will make our laws on the Quran.”
The man tasked with enforcing Sharia for the Taliban wants to take the country’s legal system back to where it was before 2001.
“Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security,” he said during his Friday interview. He and other Taliban leaders are currently working to adopt a policy with regard to handling public punishments.
Speaking on amputations in particular, Turabi touted them for their ability to deter crime.
The goal, per Turabi, is to bring back a system of strict punishment while keeping in place some social reforms accomplished during U.S. occupation of the country, such as having female judges.
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