The Human Rights Watch in a new report released on Thursday announced that Taliban leaders should recognize the catastrophe they have created over the past year and reverse course on rights.
The HRW’s report highlights that the Taliban have broken multiple pledges to respect human rights and women’s rights since taking over Afghanistan a year ago. This has brought widespread condemnation and imperiled international efforts to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation. HRW said that the economy has collapsed, largely because governments have cut foreign assistance and restricted international economic transactions.
“After capturing Kabul on August 15, 2021, Taliban authorities have imposed severe restrictions on women’s and girls’ rights, suppressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and summarily executed critics and perceived opponents, among other abuses,” Human Rights Watch said.
More than 90 percent of Afghans have been food insecure for almost a year, causing millions of children to suffer from acute malnutrition and threatening serious long-term health problems. “The Afghan people are living a human rights nightmare, victims of both Taliban cruelty and international apathy,” said Fereshta Abbasi, Afghanistan researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Afghanistan’s future will remain bleak unless foreign governments engage more actively with Taliban authorities while pressuring them vigorously on their rights record.”
The Taliban’s horrendous human rights record and their unwillingness to meaningfully engage with international financial institutions have furthered their isolation, Human Rights Watch said.
It called on foreign governments to ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid, and also asked the Taliban to curtail rights abuses and hold those responsible for abuses to account.
“The Taliban should urgently reverse their horrifying and misogynistic decision to bar girls and women from secondary school,” Abbasi said. “This would send a message that the Taliban are willing to reconsider their most egregious actions.”
The report also noted that the US air strike on July 30 that killed the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri does not appear to have derailed ongoing negotiations between the US and the Taliban. HRW asked each of the parties involved to act with urgency to reach a settlement to address the country’s economic crisis.
While adding that Afghans have been suffering from some form of food insecurity since last August, skipping meals or whole days of eating and engaging in extreme coping mechanisms to pay for food, including sending children to work, HRW said that the humanitarian situation would be even worse had the UN and other aid providers not substantially increased their operations in 2022.