Punishments Such As Executions, Amputation of Hands To Return: Taliban Official

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Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, one of the founders of the Taliban, has said the radical group would once again carry out punishments such as executions and amputation of hands, but maybe not in public, AP reported.

During the Taliban's last rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, Turabi used to be the justice minister, the head of the 'Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice' and was the chief enforcer of the harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Executions, at times, used to take place in front of hundreds of Afghan men in Kabul's sports stadium.

""Everyone criticised us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and their punishments. No one will tell us what our laws should be. We will follow Islam, and we will make our laws on the Quran."" - Mullah Nooruddin Turabi

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A convicted murderer used to be shot in the head by the victim's family, who also had the option of accepting blood money, which would have allowed the culprit to live. Convicted thieves used to have their hands amputated, while those convicted of highway robbery used to have a hand and a foot amputated.

'Cutting Off of Hands Very Necessary for Security'

Turabi said that the judges would also include women this time, and the foundation of Afghanistan's laws will be the Quran. He also said the same punishments would be revived this time around.

"Cutting off of hands is very necessary for security," he said, due to its deterrent effect, adding that the Cabinet was studying if the punishments should be held in public.

The Taliban have already revived a past punishment – public shaming of men who indulge in small-time theft.

Turabi, who lost a leg and one eye fighting the Soviet Union in the 1980s, is in charge of prisons and is also on the United Nations' sanctions list.

In 1996, after taking power, Turabi had screamed at a woman journalist, asking her to leave a room full of men, and then slapped the man who had objected to it. He also destroyed music tapes from cars. He demanded men to wear turbans in all government offices while his followers beat all those men who trimmed their beards. He had banned sports, and his enforcers ensured that men prayed five times a day in the mosque.

Speaking to a woman journalist, he said, "We are changed from the past."

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'Can Reach Millions Instead of Hundreds Through Media'

Turabi said the Taliban would now allow television, mobile phones, photos and video "because this is the necessity of the people, and we are serious about it."

He said the Taliban could reach millions instead of hundreds through the media.

He said if the Taliban decided to make punishments public, people might be allowed to record them or take photos to have a deterrent effect.

The news agency AP also spoke with and quoted several civilians in Kabul who felt that the city has become much 'safer' in the past one month compared to earlier when people could not roam around in the streets after dark owing to thefts and other crimes.

Taliban Introduce Guidelines That Could Deter Press Freedom

Taliban spokesperson and the interim director of the Government Media and Information Center, Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, introduced 11 rules for journalists earlier week. The directives are against publishing topics that are against the principles of Islam, that insult national personalities. The directives also instruct media outlets to produce news reports after coordinating with the government's media office, The New York Times reported.

'Reporters Without Borders', a press freedom organisation, called the new rules "spine-chilling" and said that overall the rules were "extremely dangerous because they open the way to censorship and persecution."

The group also said "the Taliban had dropped any mention of conforming with international standards and press-freedom conventions," reported The New York Times.

"They bode ill for the future of journalistic independence and pluralism in Afghanistan," said Christophe Deloire, the Reporters Without Borders secretary-general, in the statement.

(With inputs from AP and The New York Times.)

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