In its first report to the UN Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, warned that Afghanistan is trapped in a human rights crisis since the Taliban seized power in August 2021 and that the world seemed powerless to address.
Speaking to the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Mr Bennett said that "I’m gravely concerned about the staggering regression in women and girls enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights since the Taliban seized control of the country. There’s no country in the world where women and girls have so rapidly being deprived of their fundamental human rights purely because of gender.”
Bennett stressed that in light of the grave humanitarian situation, it's the joint responsibility of the Taliban, the de facto authorities, and the international community to ensure international assistance reaches the most marginalised people in the county.
“The dire humanitarian situation is very worrying, with food security becoming more precarious by the day", Mr. Bennett said. He added that "WHO and FAO warned that by November almost 19 million people are estimated to face acute levels of food insecurity. Children in particular, are facing extreme hunger and high risks of exploitation, including forced labor and marriage.”
According to Mr Bennett, the isolation of the Central Bank of Afghanistan from the international banking system, including access to the country's foreign currency reserves, has led the Afghan economy to the brink of the collapse.
Bennett's report raised particular concern about the degrading security situation in the country.
“Security in Afghanistan is deteriorating again", he said. "I remain concerned about the protection of civilians, especially its damaging impact on children, brutal attacks on civilians mainly claimed by the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) cast doubt on the de facto authorities’ ability to ensure security and protect people from harm.”
Bennett's report outlined systematic attacks against the civilian population, including revenge killings of former government officials.
“I’m 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", the Special Rapporteur said. "I’m also receiving allegations of serious violence committed against the civilian population, allegedly by men representing local de facto authorities. They appear to act with impunity and creating an atmosphere of terror.”
The report indicates also that the situation of ethnic and religious minorities has continued to deteriorate since August 2021.
“Hazaras and Shia communities are one of the most severely persecuted groups", said Mr. Bennett. "Members have been arbitrarily arrested, tortured, summarily executed, displaced from traditional lands, subjected to discriminatory taxation and otherwise marginalized."
Bennett said that press freedom has seriously declined with dozens of journalists being imprisoned, attacked, intimidated and ill-treated and in a few cases filled or disappeared.
The justice system under the Republic has been largely swept aside with former judges, including women judges, excluded. There is uncertainty of the applicable laws and processes. Former judicial officials remain at high risk of reprisals by the Taliban or now-freed prisoners whose cases they presided over.
In response to the report presented by Mr. Bennet, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Mr. Nasir Ahmad Andisha, said that “today’s report and the recent report by UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) fails to capture the full spectre and the full nature and the extent of violation, abuses across the country, insufficient resources and inability to access location where violations are taking place, particularly in the north, and the fear to seek redress from among communities under severe surveillance and mass punishment have made it impossible to grasp the dire situation on the ground. Many violations are going undocumented, many casualties are overlooked.”