The report points to the erosion of women’s rights and the emergence of extrajudicial killings in the one year since the Taliban took over the governance of the country. It says that the situation of human rights in Afghanistan has worsened considerably, despite an overall significant reduction in armed violence.
The Human Rights In Afghanistan report released by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Wednesday, highlighted the difficult life of Afghanistan’s women. It says their rights have been drastically curtailed since Taliban militants returned to power.
It points to far-reaching decisions by the Taliban that impact the lives of women and children and highlights the instance of girls being banned from school beyond the sixth grade as the Taliban ordered girls’ high schools to close doors in March 2022, hours before the schools were scheduled to open after a break.
“Since 15 August, women and girls have progressively had their rights to fully participate in education, the workplace, and other aspects of public and daily life restricted and in many cases completely taken away,” the report said.
“The decision not to allow girls to return to secondary school means that a generation of girls will not complete their full 12 years of basic education. At the same time, access to justice for victims of gender-based violence has been limited by the dissolution of dedicated reporting pathways, justice mechanisms and shelters,” it said.
“The education and participation of women and girls in public life is fundamental to any modern society,” said Markus Potzel, the UN acting Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“The relegation of women and girls to the home denies Afghanistan the benefit of the significant contributions they have to offer. Education is not only a basic human right, but the key to the development of a nation.”
The report confirms the erosion of basic human rights across the country since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, pointing out that they bear responsibility for extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and violations of fundamental freedoms.
The de facto authorities have limited dissent by cracking down on protests and curbing media freedoms according to the report.
The report condemns arbitrary arrests of journalists, protestors, and civil society activists.
“The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of opinion, are not only fundamental freedoms, they are necessary for the development and progression of a nation”, said Fiona Frazer, UNAMA Chief of Human Rights.
They allow meaningful debate to flourish, also benefiting those who govern by allowing them to better understand the issues and problems facing the population.”
The report urged the Taliban authorities to do more to identify, probe, and lawfully punish human rights abuses, saying that “Human rights violations must be investigated by the de facto authorities, perpetrators held accountable, and ultimately, incidents should be prevented from reoccurring in the future.”
“It is beyond time for all Afghans to be able to live in peace and rebuild their lives after 20 years of armed conflict”, he added. “Our monitoring reveals that despite the improved security situation since 15 August, the people of Afghanistan, in particular women and girls, are deprived of the full enjoyment of their human rights”.
While the report acknowledges steps taken by Taliban authorities to reduce violence, UNAMA still recorded 2,106 civilian casualties, with 700 killed, and 1,406 wounded. Those causalities are mainly attributed to targeted attacks by the terrorist group which identifies itself as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province, against ethnic and religious minority communities.
UNAMA is concerned about the impunity with which members of the de facto authorities appear to have carried out human rights violations.
According to the report, those worst affected, were those linked to the former government and its security forces, with 160 extrajudicial killings confirmed, as well as 178 arbitrary arrests and detentions, and 56 instances of torture.
The human rights situation has been exacerbated by a nationwide economic, financial and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale. At least 59 per cent of the population is now in need of humanitarian assistance – an increase of six million people compared with the beginning of 2021.
Image: Shamsuddin Hamedi / UNAMA