A U.N. expert warns Afghans are trapped in a human rights crisis the world seems powerless to fix.
Richard Bennett, special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, has submitted his first report to the U.N. Human Rights Council since assuming his post after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last year.
Bennett said conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated over the past year. He said the Taliban have become increasingly authoritarian, clamping down on freedom of expression and denying people their civic and political rights.
While all Afghans are going through turbulent times, he said, the rollback of the rights previously enjoyed by women and girls is particularly deplorable.
“I am gravely concerned about the staggering regression in women’s and girls’ enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights since the Taliban seized control of the country,” he said. “There is no country in the world where women and girls have so rapidly been deprived of their fundamental human rights purely because of gender.”
Bennett called it a matter of international concern. He said urgent action is needed to get the de facto Taliban rulers to change their discriminatory policies. The U.N. expert described a country on the brink of economic collapse. He said nearly 19 million people, half the population, face acute hunger.
He said even security, which had improved after the Taliban took power in August 2021, is deteriorating again. He said he has received many reports of civilians being subjected to house-to-house searches and what appear to be collective punishment.
“I am particularly concerned that former Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and other officials of the former government remain subject to ongoing arbitrary detention, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, despite the amnesty declared by the Taliban,” Bennett said.
Bennett said those committing these crimes appear to be acting with impunity and are creating an atmosphere of terror.
The U.N. does not recognize the legitimacy of the Taliban government. Nasir Ahmad Andisha continues to represent the former government as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva.
Following the rapporteur’s intervention, he called on the council to establish a mechanism to identify those committing crimes with impunity. He said this documented information potentially could be used by the International Criminal Court and other U.N. bodies to bring perpetrators to account and provide justice for the victims.