Global Briefs: Public stoning returns to Afghanistan | WORLD
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Global Briefs: Public stoning returns to Afghanistan

Taliban reinstates brutal punishment for adultery

Wakil Kohsar / AFP via Getty Images

Global Briefs: Public stoning returns to Afghanistan
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Fact Box Source: The World Factbook-CIA


In late March, Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada announced his regime will reinstate public flogging and stoning of women as punishment for adultery. Global human rights groups condemned the decision, saying it destroys any remaining shreds of protection for Afghanistan’s 14 million women and girls. Research group Afghan Witness reports that over the past year, Taliban-appointed judges have ordered 417 floggings and executions, 57 of which targeted women. In February, the Taliban held public executions in stadiums in Jawzjan and Ghazni provinces and encouraged citizens to attend. Since its violent takeover in 2021, the Taliban has worked to eradicate “Western influence.” —Grace Snell


The country’s population grew 3.2 percent in 2023, its fastest rate since 1957. Back then, the postwar baby boom and an influx of 37,000 Hungarians fleeing com­munist rule fueled the growth. Immigration continues to be a driving force. Of last year’s 1.27 million new Canadian residents, 98 percent were permanent or temporary immigrants coming mostly from India, China, the Philippines, and Afghanistan. Only 2 percent of the growth came from births. Canada’s population now stands at 40.77 million people. This is the second year in a row immigration has been a major factor in population growth. Officials say the influx put a pinch on housing and crimped Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating. In response, his party capped the number of temporary workers and international students who can gain a path to permanent residency. By comparison, the U.S. population grew just 0.5 percent last year. —Amy Lewis

Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images


Members of the populist government say recent bear attacks show the need to loosen European Union protections for predatory wildlife. In late March, authorities killed a brown bear thought to be involved in rampages that injured five people. But critics claimed authorities killed the wrong bear and said shooting a bear that posed no threat violates Slovak and EU laws. In a separate incident, a female hiker died after a bear attack. Since the fall of communism, improved environmental protections in Eastern Europe have allowed brown bears to return to their habitats in the Carpathian Mountains. —Jenny Lind Schmitt


Police officers on March 28 said they rescued 13 young women and seven children hiding in a house in the capital city of Harare. Authorities believe members of an apostolic sect moved the women from the shrine of leader Ishmael Chokurongerwa amid abuse investigations. Police officers detained Chokurongerwa in early March after finding 251 minors working on his farm in Nyariba, 18 miles west of Harare. Seven of his followers are also in custody for child abuse charges. A police statement said the children, who were not enrolled in school, engaged in manual labor under the guise of learning life skills. Investigators also found 16 graves, seven of which held infant remains. Apostolic sects are common in the majority Christian nation. —Onize Ohikere


The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to seize two luxury New York City apartments allegedly purchased with corrupt funds. Former Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold, 60, who held office from 2009 to 2012, bought the properties for $14 million. U.S. federal prosecutors allege that Batbold’s government awarded a mining contract worth $68 million to an entity he owned, even though it had no mining expertise and its sole director was a former linguistics teacher. Prosecutors say millions of dollars from that contract and other similar agreements were siphoned into foreign bank accounts, transferred through shell companies, and used to purchase the Manhattan properties. Batbold, currently a member of Mongolia’s Parliament, denies the accusations. —Joyce Wu

María Corina Machado

María Corina Machado Matias Delacroix/AP


With one minute to spare, the political alliance opposing President Nicolás Maduro registered a candidate for the July 28 presidential election. The Democratic Unitary Platform (PUD) chose former diplomat Edmundo González Urrutia as its temporary candidate on March 26 after months of blocked attempts. The country’s Supreme Court barred PUD leader María Corina Machado from running for office in January, and the electoral office refused for “technical reasons” to register her replacement. The party still hopes to swap Urrutia’s name with Machado’s before the election. But the electoral office also confirmed two other last-minute opposition candidates. Machado claims they’re working with Maduro to split the vote. —Elizabeth Russell


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