Afghanistan: Execution of five men an affront to justice

The execution of five men in Afghanistan who had been convicted over a gang rape following a series of flawed trials is an affront to justice, Amnesty International said.

Five men convicted of armed robbery and zina (sex outside marriage) in relation to the gang rape of four women in Paghman district outside of Kabul on 22 August were executed today in Pul-e-Charkhi jail. They were first sentenced to death on 7 September, a sentence later upheld in an appeals court (15 September) and by the Supreme Court (24 September), and confirmed by then-President Hamid Karzai.

“There is no question that this was an appalling crime and the outcry and anger this case has caused is of course understandable. Amnesty International continues to campaign against rape and other sexual attacks globally and in Afghanistan. But the death penalty is not justice – it only amounts to short-term revenge,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

“The death penalty is an abhorrent form of punishment and should never be used under any circumstances. The many fair trial concerns in this case only make these executions more unjust. It’s deeply disappointing that new President Ashraf Ghani has allowed the executions to go ahead.”

Amnesty International further urges the Afghan government to ensure that all rape is prohibited in law, policy and practice and perpetrators are punished, and to work towards purging any social stigma which attaches to rape victim – all fault for rape lies solely with the perpetrators and it is them alone who should carry the stigma.

“This case has highlighted some deep flaws in the Afghan justice system and laws – flaws that the new President Ashraf Ghani himself has vowed to tackle. The trials have been marred by inconsistencies, uninvestigated torture claims and political interference. In charging these men with zina the Afghan authorities have continued a pattern of treating rape in a flawed way,” said David Griffiths.

“President Ghani was placed in an unenviable position by the actions of his predecessor in this case, but regrettably failed his first test on upholding human rights and the rule of law. These deaths cannot be undone now, but President Ghani must order an immediate moratorium on all executions as a first step towards total abolition or the death penalty.”


Today’s executions marked the first executions in Afghanistan in 2014. Under the administration of former President Karzai (December 2001-September 2014), Amnesty International has reported at least 51 executions. There are currently approximately 300 prisoners on death row in the country.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.