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Human rights group knocks 'abusive' Taliban officials

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Afghan couple stoned to death
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Reconciliation shouldn't include abusive Taliban, HRW official says
  • Two were stoned to death in Taliban town
  • The stoning case raises questions about which Taliban can be dealt with

(CNN) -- "Abusive" Taliban officials, like the one who ordered the stoning of a young man and woman in northern Afghanistan, shouldn't have positions of authority after a peace deal, a Human Rights Watch official said Thursday.

In considering negotiations between the Taliban and coalition and Afghan government officials to end the conflict there, authorities have been amenable to the idea of reconciliation with low-level Taliban, but not all of them -- especially those who've committed violent acts. The question remains of how much sacrifice should be made for the sake of peace.

"The Afghan government has said there will be negotiations with the Taliban. The U.S. government supports that ultimately because we all know that that's the only way to end the war," Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said on CNN's "American Morning."

"When all is said and done, the question is, think about the stoning case up in Kunduz. Can we live with the deal in which the man who ordered the stoning becomes the mayor of that town?

"The question is not whether there will be negotiations, but what the terms of the final deal will be. Will we be able to live with allowing these most abusive Taliban commanders to get positions of authority in the country, and I think that's what needs to be ruled out -- not just because it's wrong but because I think a deal like that won't last, it won't be sustainable. We won't get peace from a deal like that."

The Taliban stoned to death a man and a woman in northern Afghanistan for allegedly having an affair, officials said Monday, an execution President Hamid Karzai called "unforgivable."

The stoning took place Sunday in Dasht-e-Archi district, in the Taliban-dominated village of Mullah Qali in Kunduz province. The pair was accused of having an illicit sexual relationship, a spokesman for the Kunduz governor said.

The woman was about 20 years old and the man was about 27, said Mohammed Ayoub, district governor of Amam Sahib, which is also in Kunduz province. The woman was engaged, and the man was married to another woman. The two had been held by the Taliban for about a week, Ayoub said.

Malinowski there's been "a lot more brazen behavior by the Taliban in the parts of the country that they pretty much control, such as executions of people regarded, for example, as collaborators or against women who try to go to school.

"This is the first time they've actually publicly executed somebody in front of a crowd of people," Malinowski said. "It tells me there are a lot of parts of Afghanistan where the government is just absent. There's no government there. There's no U.S. military there. There's no formal justice system there, and so the Taliban can fill the vacuum -- and when they do, this is what they do."