Arbitrary Killings, Torture & Arrests Resume In Afghanistan, Says UN Human Rights Chief

Tuesday, 09/12/2023

Volker Türk, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, said that despite the Taliban's announced general amnesty, extra-judicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests have resumed in Afghanistan.

Türk added that the UN continues documenting human rights violations against former employees and security forces members of the previous Afghan government.

On Monday, the UN official at the meeting of the Human Rights Council said that since the takeover of Kabul, Taliban has imposed a systematic assault on the people that violates human rights and freedoms of people, especially women and girls.

Referring to the prohibition of education for women and girls, he described the Taliban’s oppression against women and girls as "cruel".

According to Türk, the Taliban's increasing restrictions on women and girls’ fundamental freedoms, confines them “to the four walls of their homes”.

He added that women and girls' disobedience to the Taliban rules leads to arbitrary arrest, harassment, and even physical violence.

Türk also said that in the past two years of the Taliban’s rule, laws and institutions that once had been supplying protection for human rights, have been systematically eroded.

According to him, the laws that previously protected women from violence or enabled a good environment for the media, are now suspended.

Türk added that the Taliban have resumed corporal punishment and public executions. “There are ongoing reports of extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions,” he said.

He stated that in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, rights of accused people are being violated due to failure to maintain procedural safeguards and the absence of a criminal justice system.

He said that the Taliban has appointed bodies to monitor prisons and the judicial process, but so far it has not been seen how these institutions work.

In his speech at the Human Rights Council, Türk addressed Taliban’s repressive actions toward the media too.

He said that the Taliban's restrictions on the media represented a "targeted attack" on freedom of expression and opinion.

This UN official said that journalists in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan are being prohibited from publishing content that is against the Taliban's religious interpretation.

He also pointed to the banning of foreign films and covering female presenter’s faces on television.

According to him, the Taliban's restrictions have caused many media outlets to halt operations. Civil society faces similar restrictions, he said.

He added that with arbitrary arrests, the Taliban uses it as a tool to silence “dissents and free speech”.

The United Nations Human Rights Council started its 54th session on Monday. A major part of the speeches on the first day of this summit had been devoted to the situation in Afghanistan.

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