HRW points fingers at Taliban for failing to keep promises to respect human rights

The NGO Human Right Watch (HRW) has pointed out Thursday that the Taliban have broken many promises to respect human rights and women’s rights since they took power a year ago.

Since the Taliban captured Kabul on August 15, 2021, they have imposed severe restrictions on the rights of women and girls, repressed the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured and summarily executed critics and opponents, the organization said.

“The Taliban’s human rights abuses have provoked widespread condemnation and jeopardized international efforts to address the dire humanitarian situation in the country,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

The negative economic developments have caused, according to the NGO, more than 90 percent of Afghans to be insecure, resulting in millions of children suffering from acute malnutrition and threatening serious long-term health problems.

“The Afghan people are living a human rights nightmare, victims of both Taliban ruthlessness and international apathy,” said HRW’s Afghanistan researcher Fereshta Abbasi.

“Afghanistan’s future will remain bleak unless foreign governments engage more actively with the Taliban authorities while vigorously pressing them on their rights record,” she added.

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The organization has argued in the brief that since the Taliban took power, they have imposed rules that comprehensively prevent women and girls from exercising “their most fundamental rights” to expression, movement and education, while affecting “their other basic rights” to life, livelihood, medical care, food and water.

They have also banned women from traveling or going to their place of work without being accompanied by a male family member, a requirement “impossible for almost all families.” The Taliban, too, have denied almost all girls access to secondary school .

“The Taliban’s horrendous human rights record and their unwillingness to engage meaningfully with international financial institutions have increased their isolation,” HRW has argued, calling on foreign governments to ease restrictions on the country’s banking sector.

In doing so, the organization wants to facilitate legitimate economic activity and humanitarian aid, although for this to happen the Taliban must also reduce rights abuses and hold those responsible for abuses accountable, the NGO said.

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“The Taliban should urgently reverse their horrific and misogynistic decision to ban girls and women from secondary school,” Abbasi has said, asserting that this would send a message that the Taliban are willing to reconsider their most heinous actions.”

Overall, the vast majority of Afghans would have been suffering some form of food insecurity since last August, skipping meals or entire days eating and resorting to extreme coping mechanisms to pay for food, including sending children to work.

Also, the impact of the economic crisis on women and girls is “particularly severe,” as women and girls would find it increasingly difficult to access assistance and health care.

The humanitarian situation could be even worse if the UN and other aid providers do not substantially scale up their operations by 2022, according to HRW.

“After a year in power, the Taliban leadership should recognize the catastrophe they have created and reverse course on rights before more Afghans suffer and more lives are lost,” Abbasi added.

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