Taliban publicly flogs nine men up to 39 times in football stadium

A Taliban security personnel stands guard as people attend to watch a public flogging of women and men at a football stadium in December  (AFP via Getty Images)
A Taliban security personnel stands guard as people attend to watch a public flogging of women and men at a football stadium in December (AFP via Getty Images)

Nine men were publicly flogged in front of hundreds of people at a stadium in Afghanistan for crimes under the country's new rulers, a Taliban official said.

The lashings took place at a sports stadium in Kandahar and each man was struck between 35 and 39 times in front of officials, religious clerics, elders and local peopl.

Haji Zaid, spokesperson for the governor’s office in the southern Kandahar province, wrote on Twitter: “In Kandahar, nine criminals were given penal sentences.

“The sentences were 35 for some of them, and some were given 39.”

According to the hardline Islamist group, the maximum number of lashes a person can receive is 39.

The Taliban official did not specify the crimes that the nine men were accused of.

However, Afghan TV channel Tolo News cited a statement by the country’s Supreme Court, saying they were punished on charges of robbery and sodomy in Kandahar’s Ahmad Shahi Stadium.

Photos on social media appeared to show hundreds of spectators on the periphery of the sports stadium as the people accused by the Taliban were seen queuing up. They were also surrounded by armed fighters of the caretaker government.

The Taliban reportedly also cut off the hands of four people who were accused of theft.

Shabnam Nasimi, a former policy adviser to the minister for Afghan resettlement and minister for refugees in the UK, said: "The Taliban have reportedly cut off the hands of 4 people in a football stadium in Kandahar today, accused of theft, in front of spectators.

“People are being lashed, amputated & executed in Afghanistan, without fair trial and due process. This is a human rights violation.”

This week’s punishments are the latest example of harsh policies in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan under their interpretation of Islamic law or Sharia.

However, dozens of Afghans have been subjected to the punishments of public flogging and lashings since the fall of Kabul for crimes like adultery, robbery and same-sex relations, which have been deemed punishable under the Taliban’s Sharia law.

The punishments have been publicly staged since November in parts of Afghanistan despite condemnation from the international community.

Last month, the Taliban executed an Afghan convicted of killing another man, the first public execution since the insurgents returned to power.

The execution was carried out with an assault rifle by the victim’s father in western Farah province as hundreds of spectators and many top Taliban officials watched.

Afghanistan’s interim government helmed by the Taliban has not been officially recognised outside the country’s borders after they returned to power by force in August 2021.