The groups most targeted by the Taliban have been the former army, police and intelligence forces, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
UNAMA documented at least 800 human rights violations against former Afghan government officials and security forces between August 15, 2021, when the Taliban seized power, and the end of June 2023.
The Taliban rampaged through Afghanistan as US and NATO troops were in the final weeks of withdrawing from the country after two decades of war. US-backed and trained Afghan forces crumbled before the advancing Taliban and former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
“De facto (Taliban) security forces detained people, often briefly, before killing them. Some were taken to detention centers and killed while in custody, others were taken to unknown locations and killed, their bodies dumped or given to their relatives,” the report says.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a press release issued alongside the report that it “presents a sobering picture of the treatment of individuals affiliated with the former government and security forces.”
“Moreover, since they were assured that they would not be attacked, it is a betrayal of the trust of the people,” Türk said. He urged Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers – the country’s “de facto authorities” – to fulfill their “obligations under international human rights law, preventing further violations and holding perpetrators to account”.
Since taking power, the Taliban have not faced any significant opposition and have avoided internal divisions.
The Taliban-led Afghan Foreign Ministry dismissed the report, saying it was unaware of any human rights violations committed by Taliban officials or employees.
“Killings without trial, arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture and other acts against human rights by employees of Islamic Emirates security institutions against former government employees and security forces have not been reported,” it said.
The report said former Afghan soldiers were at the highest risk of human rights violations, followed by police and intelligence officials. Monkfish was reported in all 34 provinces, with the highest number reported in Kabul, Kandahar and Balkh provinces.
Most of the violations occurred four months after the Taliban takeover, and UNAMA recorded almost half of all extrajudicial killings of former Afghan government officials and security forces during this period. But rights violations continued even after that, with 70 extrajudicial killings recorded in 2022, the report adds.
The report documented at least 33 human rights violations against former police officers in the southern province of Kandahar, accounting for more than a quarter of all human rights violations against former police officers nationwide.
UNAMA documented at least 14 cases of enforced disappearance of former government officials and members of the Afghan security forces.
On 2 October 2021, Alia Azizi, a former director of a women’s prison in the western province of Herat, did not return home from work, and her whereabouts are unknown. Despite allegedly launching an investigation into her disappearance, the Taliban have not released any information about her whereabouts from her, according to the report.
The UN documented more than 424 arbitrary arrests and detentions of former government officials and members of the Afghan security forces. In contrast, the report documented more than 144 cases of torture and ill-treatment, including beatings with pipes, wires, verbal threats and other abuses.
The Taliban initially promised a general amnesty for those linked to the previous government and international forces, but those promises were not kept.
The failure of the Taliban authorities “to fully respect their publicly stated commitment and to hold perpetrators of human rights violations to account may have serious implications for the future stability of Afghanistan,” the report said.
While the Taliban’s announcement of a general amnesty in August 2021 “was a welcome step, it remains not fully respected, and impunity for human rights violations prevails,” said Roza Otunbayeva, head of the UN mission in Afghanistan.
He urged the Taliban to show “genuine commitment to general amnesty.” This is crucial to ensure real prospects for justice, reconciliation and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
Jeremy Laurence, a spokesman for the UN human rights office, told reporters the Taliban said the violations were likely individual cases, such as personal revenge killings, and were not carried out by or on behalf of the authorities.
“De facto authorities have often responded that while a murder may have occurred, it was a case of personal enmity or revenge and not carried out in an official capacity,” he told reporters in Geneva.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s main spokesman, said the Taliban government in Afghanistan has fulfilled its general amnesty promises and that the Taliban is seriously investigating “some personal and unknown cases of revenge attacks.”
The United Nations and others, “instead of understanding the realities of Afghanistan and seeing positive developments, are always looking for negative points,” he added on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Despite initial promises from a moderate administration, the Taliban have enforced harsh rules, banning girls’ education after the sixth grade and excluding Afghan women from public life and most work, even for non-profit organizations. governments and the UN. The measures were reminiscent of the previous Taliban government of Afghanistan in the late 1990s when they also imposed their interpretation of Islamic law or Sharia.
The edicts sparked an international outcry against the already ostracized Taliban, whose administration has not been officially recognized by the UN and the international community.
Rahim Faiez, Associated Press