The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan released a report recently calling attention to several instances of human rights violations by the Taliban against former government officials across 34 different provinces in the country, with the greatest occurring in Kabul.
To date, there have been at least 800 instances of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, torture and disappearances against people affiliated with the previous government, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan supported by the US and an international coalition of countries. These cases go against the Taliban’s promise to pardon all those who worked for the former government and international allies. It represents “a betrayal of people’s trust,” said Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
After the Taliban takeover of the Afghanistan in 2021, former U.S.-backed government officials were targeted, especially those in the Afghan security forces and judicial branch. Some were killed before even being taken into custody, others killed in custody, and some taken to remote locations and killed. UNAMA interviewed families of the victims who had gone missing and whose bodies turned up months later. The former head of Herat Women’s Prison, Alia Azizi, never returned home from work on October 2, 2021. Her whereabouts are still unknown.
Moving forward, says Roza Otunbayeva, Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, “the de facto authorities must demonstrate genuine commitment to general amnesty.” This would be “a crucial step in ensuring real prospects for justice, reconciliation, and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
Despite being the de facto authorities of Afghanistan, the Taliban still has an obligation under international human rights law to prevent further violations and hold perpetrators accountable. The Taliban responded by saying that the killings were simply personal matters or “revenge cases” and not carried out in any official capacity. Even then, the Taliban has failed in providing security to Afghans at risk and are evading responsibility.
The Taliban has received international criticism for their harsh policies of gender apartheid against women and are currently not recognized by the U.N. or the international community.
UNAMA 08/22/2023; ABC News 08/22/2023