Afghans are routinely detained and attacked for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of association, peaceful gathering and expression in Afghanistan, according to CIVICUS Monitor, a global civil society organization and alliance.
In March 2023, the CIVIC Monitor downgraded Afghanistan’s rating from ‘repressed to closed’, the lowest possible category on the scale – indicating the Taliban’s systematic and intensifying crackdown on civic space in the country since their return to power in August 2021.
It is reported that the situation of human rights in Afghanistan has drastically deteriorated over the past months. Not only women are sidelined, but also social activists, academics and journalists have been targeted.
Richard Bennett, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan in his latest report expressed his deep concerns over the deteriorating situation on civic space.
While presenting his report in person to the UN Human Rights Council in March, he expresses concern that: “human rights defenders, who peacefully protest the increased restrictions on women and girls, are at heightened risk and have been increasingly beaten and arrested. The intention is clearly not only to punish them for protesting but also to deter others from protesting.”
The report added that human rights defenders and civil society organizations and journalists are all facing tremendous pressure. Moreover, civil activists and human rights defenders are subject to intimidation, including phone calls, verbal attacks and arbitrary detentions.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have completely erased Afghan women and girls from public life by continuously increasing restrictions on education, work and appearing in public spaces – making the situation extremely difficult for women.
In April 2023, the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for the UN in Afghanistan, sparking serious criticism from the global organization. However, despite the ban in place, the UN agencies have continued their operation in Afghanistan as their female employees still remain at home – a disappointing move from the UN as described by its local Afghan female staff.