THE United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has recorded credible reports of serious human rights violations by the de facto Taliban authorities against hundreds of former government officials and former members of the armed forces.
A UNAMA report released on 22 August, covering the period from the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on 15 August 2021 to 30 June 2023, documented at least 800 instances of extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment and enforced disappearance carried out against individuals affiliated with the former government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its security forces. This is despite the announcement by the de facto authorities of a “general amnesty” for former government officials and former members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
“UNAMA’s report presents a sobering picture of the treatment of individuals affiliated with the former government and security forces of Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country. Even more so, given they were assured that they would not be targeted, it is a betrayal of the people’s trust”, said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk. “I urge the de facto authorities to carefully consider the findings of this report and to uphold their obligations under international human rights law by preventing further violations and holding perpetrators to account.”
In interviews conducted by UNAMA, individuals described instances of torture and ill-treatment carried out by de facto security force members, including beatings with pipes and cables, and of verbal threats and abuse. UNAMA also heard from family members whose relatives had been arrested or gone missing, their bodies found days or even months later.
In some instances, individuals have never been found. The former Head of the Herat Women’s Prison, Alia Azizi, never returned home from work on 2 October 2021. As of 22 August 2023, her whereabouts remain unknown.
To date, efforts by the de facto authorities to investigate and hold perpetrators accountable for the incidents described in the UNAMA report have been extremely limited. Even in the few, isolated cases where an investigation was announced by the de facto authorities, the process lacks transparency, with a lack of accountability and impunity prevaiing.
The UNAMA report calls on the de facto authorities to clarify the terms of the general amnesty, to ensure that it is upheld and to conduct credible, transparent criminal investigations into alleged human rights violations against former government officials and ANDSF members.
“While the announcement of a general amnesty by the Taliban in August 2021 was a welcome step, it continues to not be fully upheld, with impunity for human rights violations prevailing”, said Roza Otunbayeva, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA. “The de facto authorities must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the general amnesty. This is a crucial step in ensuring real prospects for justice, reconciliation and lasting peace in Afghanistan.”
* Read: A barrier to securing peace: Human rights violations against former government officials and former armed force members in Afghanistan: 15 August 2021 – 30 June 2023 here.