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Afghanistan considers reintroducing stoning for adulterers

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Canadian soldiers keep watch during a joint foot patrol with U.S. and Afghan National army in Arghandab district, Kandahar province October 31, 2009. (Reuters)

More than a decade after Canadian boots landed in the landlocked South Asian country, Canadian soldiers are growing increasingly skeptical about their mission there.

Some soldiers have been dispirited over being given orders not to interfere in cases of child sodomy because of their rules of engagement. When several soldiers and chaplains told The Star about that scandal, at least two investigations were opened by the military. One board of inquiry continues, more than five years after it was formed.

This weekend, a new survey conducted by the army found morale was shaky among the first set of Canadian troops who deployed to train the Afghan National Army following the end of Canada’s five-year combat mission in Kandahar. Murray Brewster of the Canadian Press reports one-third of the soldiers who took part in the end-of-tour study said they would be willing to deploy on similar, future operations.

“The morale of the participants was moderate to low at the individual (59 per cent) and unit level (72 per cent),” according to the survey. Half of the participants recognized the value of training the Afghans, but only “one-third (32 per cent) were optimistic about the mission.”

From April 2002 to Dec. 2012, 1,436 members of the Canadian armed forces have been killed in Afghanistan.

Now there's more news that is sure to shake the conviction of western soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan.

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that Afghanistan is considering reintroducing legislation to bring back stoning as a punishment for some moral crimes.

“It is absolutely shocking that 12 years after the fall of the Taliban government, the Karzai administration might bring back stoning as a punishment,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “President Karzai needs to demonstrate at least a basic commitment to human rights and reject this proposal out of hand.”

The draft provisions, seen by Human Rights Watch, provide that if a couple is found by a court to have engaged in sexual intercourse outside a legal marriage, both the man and woman shall be sentenced to “[s]toning to death if the adulterer or adulteress is married.”

If the “adulterer or adulteress is unmarried,” the sentence shall be “whipping 100 lashes.”

Rick Westhead is a foreign affairs writer at The Star. He was based in India as the Star’s South Asia bureau chief from 2008 until 2011 and reports on international aid and development. Follow him on Twitter @rwesthead



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