Rights groups urge UN to hold Taliban accountable for human rights crisis

More than 60 rights groups have in an open letter urged the UN Human Rights Council to address the severe human rights crisis in Afghanistan under Taliban rule and hold the group accountable.

Released on Monday, the letter puts forth three demands to the UN Human Rights Council and member and observer states.

First, it has called on the UN to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, who officially assumed duties on 1 May 2022. Another is a plea for setting up a “parallel” independent investigative mechanism at the next session of the Council in September. The third pertains to a continued discussion on the situation of women and girls at the Council.

The letter indicates that during the two-year rule of the Taliban, reprisal killings, summary executions, torture and ill-treatment, arbitrary detentions, and enforced disappearances have increased with complete impunity.

It added, “There have furthermore been forced displacements, crackdowns on civil society, targeting of minority communities, and violations of fundamental human rights on discriminatory grounds—acts that could amount to gender persecution, a crime against humanity.”

The rights groups have stressed the UN Human Rights Council to take meaningful actions towards ensuring accountability and justice at a time when Afghanistan’s independent legal and judicial system and the rule of law have been abolished.

“In this context, the situation in Afghanistan meets any objective criteria to warrant an independent investigative mechanism by the Council and it is one where such a mechanism has never been more crucial. Such a mechanism would also be complementary to the efforts of the investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.” The letter asserted.

The rights groups reiterated that Member and Observer States of the Council should stand together with the people of Afghanistan and “on the side of victims and survivors who deserve the chance to be heard and to have access to justice.”