Afghanistan’s civic space ranked ‘closed’ by global civil society watchdog

CIVICUS, a global network of civil society alliance, has ranked Afghanistan’s civic space as closed, the lowest ranking in its monitoring scale.

In a report published on Thursday, CIVICUS highlights the Taliban’s persecution of women, civil society activists, journalists and critics as examples of the group’s shutting civic spaces in the country.

The report says:

“In the lead-up to the second anniversary of Taliban rule on 15th August 2023, hardliners within the de facto government are firmly in control. Every month the de facto authorities issue additional restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms and take further steps to enforce existing rules. Civil society inside Afghanistan has been threatened and beaten into near total silence, while those who fled overseas have seen their families back home harassed.”

The Taliban’s severe restrictions and abuses, CIVICUS says, are making monitoring violations “extremely challenging”.

The report further highlights examples of recent Taliban abuses in different spheres. Freedom of association, the report states, is “severely constricted” with the group having a “zero tolerance approach” to people who campaign to further human rights and civic freedoms, which include women, activists, journalists and academics.

With over 50 restrictions, Women and girls have borne the brunt of the Taliban’s abuses since its seizure of power in August 2021.

On Tuesday, the Taliban’s latest restriction on women’s right to work came into force, shutting down thousands of beauty salons across Afghanistan and making over 60,000 women unemployed.