Milad Hamadi for the Tasnim News Agency, Licensed under CC BY 4.0

Amnesty International calls for application of universal jurisdiction for Taliban crimes

Amnesty International has called for the application of universal jurisdiction against members of the Taliban accused of crimes under international law.

The organization made the call in response to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) that found that the Taliban has committed extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and ill-treatment against former government and security forces.

In a series of posts on X on Wednesday, Amnesty International stated that the UNAMA report is consistent with its own findings on several incidents of mass or individual extrajudicial killings by the Taliban against former security forces, civilians, and members of the armed anti-Taliban group, the National Resistance Front (NRF).

The organization also said that members of former government and security forces are also facing reprisals through arbitrary arrests, detention, enforced disappearances, torture, and ill-treatment under the Taliban rule.

Amnesty International reiterated the need for an independent international accountability mechanism for Afghanistan. The organization has requested the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prioritize investigating the situation in Afghanistan since 2003 when the court has jurisdiction over the situation in the country.

The UNAMA report, published on Tuesday, found that at least 800 human rights abuses were committed against former members of the army, police, and intelligence forces between August 15, 2021, and June 2023. These abuses included extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and torture and ill-treatment.

Of these, the report highlighted 218 cases of extrajudicial killings of former security forces and ex-officials, more than 424 cases of arbitrary arrests and detentions, and the remaining were reported as instances of torture, enforced disappearances, and other abuse.

The report found that Taliban forces continue to carry out revenge killings and enforced disappearances of former officials and military personnel, indicating that the Taliban has failed to enforce their “general amnesty.”

The UNAMA head, Roza Otunbayeva, stated that the Taliban authorities “must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the general amnesty to ensure real prospects for justice, reconciliation, and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”

However, the Taliban’s main spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, has rejected the UNAMA report, calling it “untrue.” He acknowledged that there have been some isolated cases of revenge killings, but he attributed them to “personal and unknown” reasons. He also claimed that the Taliban’s general amnesty is being implemented countrywide.