A leading international rights group appealed on Monday for the UN Human Rights Council to address the ongoing, “relentless abuses” by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, including severe restrictions on women and freedom of speech.
Despite initial promises for a more moderate stance, the Taliban have imposed harsh measures since taking power in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their pullout from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
The Taliban have banned women from public life and girls education beyond the sixth grade, carried out public executions after sentences before Taliban courts and cracked down on minority communities.
Amnesty International said the Taliban have also targeted women’s rights defenders, academics, and activists in recent months and detained them unlawfully. The arrests are arbitrary and those detained have no legal recourse or access to their families.
The London-based watchdog called on the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigative mechanism in Afghanistan as soon as possible and for United Nations members to act toward ending impunity and ensuring justice for victims of Taliban abuses.
“The human rights situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating rapidly, and the Taliban’s relentless abuses continue every single day,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.
“It is clear that the Taliban are not willing nor able to investigate actions by their members that grossly violate the human rights of Afghanistan’s population,” she added.
The group also said that people who publicly criticize “abusive rules” of the Taliban have been arrested without any explanations while the crackdown on women’s rights and public killings of minority ethnic Hazaras continue unchecked.
Among those detained are Narges Sadat, a women’s rights defender; civil society activist Fardin Fedayee; author and activist Zekria Asoli and also Afghan-French journalist Mortaza Behboudi. Former Afghan lawmaker Qais Khan Wakili and journalist Muhammad Yar Majroh are also in custody, Amnesty said.
In many cases, no information was given for the arrest and whereabouts of those detained, amounting to enforced disappearance, the group said.
Taliban spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on Amnesty’s report.
Separately, Amnesty reported Taliban abuses in northern Panjshir province, where their forces are fighting resistance members of the so-called National Resistance Front. The rights group said it authenticated photos and videos on social media posts of at least eight incidents between May and August 2022, showing arbitrary arrests and detentions of some 87 people in Panjshir.
Amnesty cited an unnamed witness as saying that in one of those incidents, the Taliban called residents in the village of Dan-i-Rivat in Panjshir from a mosque loudspeaker to a meeting, then tied some 50 men who showed up, hands behind their backs, and beat them with their rifle butts before taking them away.