Afghanistan: Taliban takeover aggravates rights crisis
(New York) – The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has accelerated the human rights crisis and humanitarian catastrophe in the country, Human Rights Watch said today in its Global Report 2022.
After the Taliban took control of the country on August 15, 2021, they rolled back advances in women’s rights and media freedom – key achievements of the post-2001 reconstruction effort. Many girls’ secondary schools remained closed at the end of the year, and women were largely banned from working in jobs other than teaching and health care.
“Afghans are caught between Taliban oppression and the specter of starvation,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Governments involved in Afghanistan over the past two decades should provide humanitarian aid and fund basic services, including health and education, while using their influence to press for an end to Taliban rights abuses. .
Within 752 pages Global Report 2022, its 32nd edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Executive Director Kenneth Roth challenges the conventional wisdom that autocracy is bottom-up. Country after country, large numbers of people have recently taken to the streets, even at the risk of being arrested or shot, which shows that the pull of democracy remains strong. Meanwhile, autocrats find it harder to manipulate elections in their favor. Yet, he says, democratic leaders must do a better job of tackling national and global challenges and ensuring that democracy delivers the promised dividends.
The chaotic evacuation of thousands of Afghans left behind many who were still at risk of Taliban reprisals. Taliban forces have summarily executed many former members of the Afghan government security forces. A freeze in Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves and the loss of foreign aid hastened an economic collapse, leaving millions of Afghans at risk of starvation. The collapse of the country’s health services meant that many Afghans faced the loss of most physical and mental health care.
In the weeks following the Taliban’s takeover, the new government announced a steady stream of policies and regulations that rolled back women’s rights. Taliban authorities have also imposed sweeping restrictions on Afghan media, and alongside many journalists fleeing abroad, nearly 70% of Afghan media have closed. The Taliban and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Afghan branch of the Islamic State (IS), have carried out targeted killings of civilians, including government employees, journalists and religious leaders.
The number of civilians killed and injured in the conflict has risen in the first six months of 2021 following attacks by both the Taliban and Afghan government security forces, the latter mainly through airstrikes. The ISKP carried out numerous attacks on civilian facilities, including schools and mosques, killing hundreds of people, mostly members of Afghanistan’s Hazara community. ISKP attacks continued after the Taliban took power.
The International Criminal Court prosecutor has requested permission to resume his investigation, but said he would focus on alleged Taliban and ISKP crimes, and give priority to those committed by the US military, CIA and former Afghan government security forces.