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Suppression, Crisis, and quakes deepen Human Rights concerns in Afghanistan: UN Report

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Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmati
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati
Richard Bennett, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on May 26, 2022. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP)

Richard Bennett, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan on Tuesday, presented a report on the situation in Afghanistan to the United Nations General Assembly.

The report said that Afghanistan is currently confronted with a multitude of pressing challenges which encompass a worsening human rights landscape due to the repressive policies of the Taliban, a pervasive culture of impunity, an ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis, recent devastating earthquakes, and the looming threat of massive involuntary returns.

“Afghanistan is facing a convergence of challenges, including a deteriorating human rights situation due to the Taliban’s repressive policies and practices, a culture of impunity, an ongoing humanitarian and economic crisis, recent deadly earthquakes, and the possibility of massive involuntary returns, all of which require urgent action to avoid further suffering and potential instability in the country and the region,” the report said.

The Special Rapporteur voiced deep concern about the deteriorating human rights situation, emphasising the vulnerability of women, girls, human rights defenders, journalists, ethnic and linguistic minorities, LGBTI individuals, persons with disabilities, and former government officials and military personnel. The situation is dire, and the rights and freedoms of these groups are under severe threat.

Meanwhile, the recent earthquakes in Herat have exacerbated the already vulnerable conditions faced by Afghan communities. The international community’s assistance is urgently needed to alleviate the suffering of those affected by these natural disasters.

Despite assurances, Bennett highlighted the culture of impunity for torture, inhumane treatment in detention centres, and human rights violations against former government officials and military personnel. Accountability for these crimes is paramount.

The Special Rapporteur underscored the need to resume education for girls beyond the sixth grade and women’s tertiary education. The suspension of these educational opportunities by the Taliban, even if declared temporary, constitutes a form of gender persecution and segregation that merits further examination.

The Taliban’s policy of narrowing the focus of education to religious teachings, akin to “madrassa-style” instruction, poses risks by limiting children’s access to a well-rounded education. Coupled with unemployment and poverty, this policy could foster radicalization, increasing the risk of homegrown terrorism and regional instability.

While some journalists have been released, Bennett expressed concern about the chilling effect of these arrests and the shrinking civic space in Afghanistan. Freedom of expression and a robust media landscape are crucial for a democratic society.

The Special Rapporteur urged the international community to prioritize human rights over geopolitical interests, emphasizing the importance of standing up for Afghan women and girls and ensuring their rights are not sidelined.

Therefore,  Afghanistan faces a multifaceted crisis that demands immediate attention and action from the international community. Protecting human rights, particularly for vulnerable groups, should be a paramount concern, and efforts to address the ongoing challenges in Afghanistan must be pursued with urgency and determination.

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