Human Rights Watch expressed dismay after the government Tuesday executed eight people, ending a four-year de facto suspension of the practice. Two people were executed under the central government's justice system during that four-year period.
Brad Adams, director of Asia programs at Human Rights Watch, said the de facto moratorium represented a dramatic departure from the system of government under the Taliban before 2001.
"The eight hangings in a single day are a terrible step backward for Afghanistan," he said in a statement from New York. "President Hamid Karzai should stop future executions and commit to a formal moratorium."
Kabul said the men were executed for charges ranging from robbery to murder.
Human Rights Watch said the justice system in Afghanistan is weak despite 10 years of support from the international community. The group said many confessions are extracted under duress.
The Taliban, in a statement published by the Australian Associated Press, warned of "heavy repercussions for lawmakers, courts and other related circles of the Kabul administration" if the government executes any of its members on death row.
The Taliban, which led the country before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, said there were "credible reports" suggesting its "prisoners of war" were slated for execution.