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The public flogging of a man and a woman by local officials in western Ghor province in Afghanistan for “adultery” is abhorrent and Afghan authorities must hold to account those responsible.

The couple was illegally sentenced to 100 lashes by a primary court in Cheghcheran town in Ghor. One of the court’s judges later carried out the punishment in public in the presence of police and other officials on August 30, 2015, but it only came to public attention after being broadcast on Afghan TV.

“Afghan authorities must immediately launch an investigation into this case, and ensure that all those responsible are held to account. Reports that this horrific punishment of 100 lashes was handed down by a primary court that is part of Afghanistan’s formal justice system are deeply worrying,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

“Corporal punishments constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and in this case, with the degree of violence and humiliation shown, may amount to torture. Such punishment is prohibited under international law. The fact that this couple had apparently been sentenced for ‘adultery,’ which should never be a crime in the first place, make this case even worse.”

“This is far from an isolated example of cruel and unlawful punishments being handed down and carried out in Afghanistan, which is particularly common in the informal justice system that still exists in many parts of the country. The Afghan Government must do more to impose tighter supervision of all courts, formal and informal, and also abolish corporal punishment entirely.”

The Taliban and other armed insurgent groups are also often responsible for meting out corporal punishments in public, as well as carrying out public executions.