World News

Afghan clerics demand imposition of Sharia law

KABUL (Reuters) - A group of Afghan religious clerics is demanding the nationwide enforcement of Islamic Sharia law such as capital punishment and stonings for adulterers, a private daily reported on Tuesday.

Until overthrown in 2001, the Islamic Taliban government used to stage public executions, chop off the hands or feet of thieves and stone male and female adulterers.

The Taliban’s imposition of Islamic law largely isolated the group worldwide, but at home was credited with reducing crime.

Since Western-backed President Hamid Karzai came to power, however, only one execution has take place and there have been no reports of stonings or lashings.

The call for the re-introduction of Sharia law came from more than 200 clerics in the western province of Herat on Monday, Arman-e-Millie daily reported.

It quoted a resolution from the group urging Karzai to “earnestly” campaign for implementation of the punishments.

The demand comes amid rising crime during an unprecedented period of personal freedom in the deeply conservative country.

It coincides with the launch of a U.N. conference in Rome on promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan.

The European Commission said on Monday it would allocate 200 million euros ($272 million) to help reform Afghanistan’s justice sector and pay the salaries of judges and police.

The funds are part of a 610-million-euro assistance package for 2007-10 that the EU executive announced in January.

The Rome conference is to adopt an action plan identifying gaps and issues to be addressed by different donors and a future funding mechanism.

U.S. officials have urged the EU to do more to help speed up training of Afghan police and other law officials needed to combat widespread corruption and the drugs trade, which analysts say fuels the Taliban insurgency.