UN expert calls on international community to prioritise human rights of Afghans in any ‘normalisation’: Afghanistan


The deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan two and a half years on is causing unacceptable suffering, a UN expert said today. He called for urgent action by the Taliban and the international community to halt this downward spiral and give hope to Afghans.

“Women and girls are being erased from public life, peaceful dissent is not tolerated, violence and the threat of violence are used with impunity to control and instil fear in the population,” said Richard Bennett, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan. “This is compounded by an economic and humanitarian crisis that results in the denial of economic, social and cultural rights.”

“There are public executions and use of corporal punishment by the Taliban, and credible reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances and torture of opponents of the regime, who face discrimination and marginalisation, as do marginalised communities such as Hazaras,” he said.

In his report to the Human Rights Council, Bennett outlined the Taliban’s increasing violations of women’s and girls’ rights, including harsh enforcement of their dress code.

The expert found that the institutionalised, systematic and widespread nature of gender-based discrimination was unparalleled, rising to the level of gender persecution and justifying being characterised as “gender apartheid”. He will report further on this issue at the Human Rights Council session in June 2024.

“I am deeply concerned about the ban on education for women and girls beyond the sixth grade and the ban on work for women employed by NGOs and the United Nations,” the Special Rapporteur said. He also highlighted the dangerous human rights situation of children and the LGBTQI+ community in Afghanistan.

Bennett pointed to the arbitrary detention of activists and journalists for exercising their rights.

“The fear of arbitrary arrest and, in some cases, enforced disappearance by the Taliban has further restricted what remains of Afghanistan’s rapidly diminishing civic space,” he said.

“I share the concern of many Afghans that despite these worrying developments, parts of the international community appear to be moving towards ‘normalisation’ of relations with the de facto authorities,” the expert said.

“It is vital that the international community is steadfast that normalisation will require significant improvements in human rights, including the situation of women and girls,” the Special Rapporteur said. “To do otherwise would send a concerning message about their commitment to women everywhere”.

He urged the international community to stand together for the human rights of the people of Afghanistan. “For an Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours, I reiterate my calls on the Taliban to improve their human rights record and building on small gains in the private and health sectors,” Bennett said. “Human rights are the cornerstone of sustainable, long-lasting peace.”

/Public Release. View in full here.