51st Human Rights Council Reports

Special Report on Afghanistan


September 12th, 2022: Special Report on Afghanistan

Main Report

The President opened the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur about human rights in Afghanistan, Mr. Richard Benet, on the 12th of September 2022.

Mister Richard Benet, The Special Rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, thanks the Council President for appointing him. He also thanks the Council and the High Commissioner for Human Rights for their trust and support. Finally, he honors Afghan women, men, youth, human rights defenders, media workers, and other civil society activists who peacefully strive for human rights at significant personal danger.

In his first report, the Special Rapporteur laments Afghanistan's worsening human rights situation. He stresses that Afghans are in a human rights crisis that the world has ignored. He also claims that the Taliban's extreme repression of women's and girls' rights, retaliation against critics, and censorship of speech constitute authoritarianism. Since the Taliban assumed power, women and girls' civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights have plummeted, alarming the Special Rapporteur. He claims that no other country has so quickly stripped women and girls of their basic rights. The Special Rapporteur urges de facto authorities to protect women's rights.

After being appointed, the Special Rapporteur visited Afghanistan for eleven days in May to honor survivors and their families. The Special Rapporteur states that he was astonished by the number of Afghans who raised concerns about humanitarian help not reaching disabled people, female-led households, and minorities. The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the de facto authorities and international community must ensure international assistance reaches the most marginalized and underprivileged in the country without discrimination.

The Special Rapporteur believes that Afghanistan's central bank's isolation from the international banking system particularly its foreign currency reserves and limited international support, has driven the Afghan economy to the brink of collapse. The Special Rapporteur Respects Afghans' right to leave and deplores their treatment in adjacent and resettlement countries, which requires urgent international attention. The Special Rapporteur declares the battle between the de facto security forces and the national resistance front in northern Afghanistan continues to cause suffering and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. He is concerned that

ethnic and religious minorities are faced with increased persecution and assaults and that churches, schools, hospitals, and public transportation are being targeted. The Special Rapporteur advises the de facto administration to communicate with all religious and ethnic groups, maintain security, defend all Afghans, and foster religious and racial diversity in government.

The Special Rapporteur concludes that the Taliban needs a complete overhaul. According to the Special Rapporteur, the Taliban must end women's rights repression, open girl schools, acknowledge and address human rights abuses and violations, enforce amnesty for government officials, protect minority, ethnic, and religious communities, build the rule of law, including oversight and institutions, and cooperate with the international community. The Special Rapporteur thus calls on the International Community to take responsibility for the current situation in Afghanistan, to recognize Afghan survivors and victims and to support their efforts politically and financially.

Statements by States and International Organizations

Afghanistan welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur and appreciates his and his team's dedicated efforts, including their visit to the country's advocacy as well as their active engagement with all the stakeholders. Afghanistan states that one year after the Taliban's military takeover, the human rights situation has worsened: women are deprived of safety, freedom and fulfillment; minorities are prosecuted and subjected to widespread and systematic attacks; civic space continues to be severely restricted; killings, forced disappearances, torture, mass punishment or detention are ongoing; barriers to access to healthcare, and livelihood, along with food insecurity are processed; musicians and artists remain under threat and the cultural heritage is being destroyed.

While Afghanistan appreciates the Special Rapporteur's findings, it notes that many transgressions go unreported, many casualties are disregarded. Afghanistan is disappointed by the council's failure to respond to the crisis of Afghanistan, as it appears that very serious violations of human rights can be met with apathy and selectivity. The country expresses that many victims, survivors, human rights defenders, marginalized, and vulnerable populations have demanded accountability and a thorough investigation. Afghanistan wants the Council to act and develop a strong accountability mechanism in this session. Afghanistan explains that such a mechanism will allow for independent, local, and international documentation and development of historical record. The country adds that it will also pave the way for identification of those responsible.

Afghanistan strongly believes that Afghan women and men, who have shown courage and drive to peacefully protest, deserve support, empathy, equality, and decency. Afghanistan warns that the next chapter of the country can be either one of prolonged pain and suffering or one of resistance for change, accountability, and prevention. Afghanistan concludes that the council's dedication to human rights worldwide could benefit the latter.

The European Union remains deeply alarmed by the increase of human rights violations and abuses, and international humanitarian law violations in Afghanistan. As the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan worsens, the European Union reaffirms its commitment to their full involvement in all aspects of life and protection from all types of abuse. The European Union condemns the killings, detentions, enforced disappearances, physical abuse, and torture of ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQIA+ people, human rights campaigners, journalists, and media professionals. The European Union urges the Taliban to fully implement human rights.

Pakistan, on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expresses grave concerns over Afghanistan's human rights, social, and economic circumstances. Pakistan supports the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process and urges the de facto authorities to meet the basic human rights and humanitarian needs of Afghan women, children, and minorities. Pakistan also has a humanitarian trust fund and food security program for Afghan people.

Denmark, on behalf of the Nordic Baltic countries, is concerned about media worker and human rights defender arbitrary detentions, intimidation, and discrimination. Denmark laments the rapid and widespread degradation of Afghan women and girls' human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the ability to work, education, movement, expression, and peaceful assembly. Denmark asks the Special Rapporteur how he plans to engage the Taliban to execute the report's recommendations.

Qatar encourages the continuation of dialogue with the Afghan assembly. Qatar is concerned 18.9 million people are suffering from food insecurity and that this affects vulnerable groups, particularly women and children. Furthermore, Qatar expresses issues with access to afghan health care and restrictions persisting in the financial sector. Qatar welcomes the peace accords in Afghanistan and tries to respond to the humanitarian need by providing humanitarian aid.

Switzerland is concerned about the deterioration of human rights and the spike in violence in Afghanistan, especially for women and girls. Switzerland is also very concerned with the violations of human rights and political opponents, religious minorities. Switzerland calls on the Taliban to guarantee all human rights and to halt all discrimination. Switzerland asks the Special Rapporteur how Afghan human rights activists can be better protected and supported.

France laments Afghanistan's economic and humanitarian decline. France knows the Taliban is responsible for this decline. Despite the commitments undertaken by the Taliban before the International Community, France accuses the Taliban of their repeated violations of the requirements set by the UN Security Council. France stands beside the Afghan people and urges the Taliban to take concrete steps to uphold commitments.

India stated it dispatched 32 tons of medical assistance and 500,000 doses of core vaccines to Afghanistan. India believes that humanitarian assistance should be based on the principles of morality, impartiality, and independence. It calls on Afghanistan to be non-discriminatory towards all afghans, particularly towards the most vulnerable, including women, children, and minorities.

Israel accuses the Taliban of breaking their vow to not plunge Afghanistan into chaos and respect Afghan human rights. Israel states that the Taliban imposed severe restrictions on women and girls' rights and the media, and arbitrarily detained, tortured, and murdered critics and opponents. Israel is also extremely concerned about LGBTQIA+ rights in Afghanistan, particularly claims of sexual assault and threats against LGBTQIA+ people. Israel urges the Taliban to halt all human rights abuses in Afghanistan, including LGBTQIA+ rights.

Luxembourg aligns itself fully with the statement given by the European Union. Luxembourg regrets that the de facto authorities have broken their promises to women, girls, LGBTQIA+ persons, journalists and media workers, religious and ethnic minorities, and freedom of expression and assembly. Luxembourg supports the strengthening of the human rights resolution in Afghanistan and believes that a stronger mandate is necessary.

The Republic of Korea regrets that in the past year the Taliban have continually disregarded human rights, by the ongoing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, and severe restriction of civic space. The Republic of Korea specifically worries about the Taliban's systematic restriction of movement, employment and education of women and girls. The Republic of Korea urges the Taliban to respect women and girls for enjoyment of Human Rights and to ensure their equal participation in the public sphere.

Australia is extremely concerned about the report's findings of widespread and systematic human rights abuses of women, and girls, ethnic and religious minorities, and political opponents, over the past year. Australia expresses its specific concern on the significant restrictions on women and girls' human rights. Australia asks the International Community to investigate Afghanistan's human rights abuses and to hold the Taliban accountable for their actions.

Ireland aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. Ireland declares that the situation in Afghanistan remains grave as human rights violations and abuses persist at the hands of the Taliban. Ireland is particularly concerned by the credible allegations of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, and detentions, as well as torture and ill-treatment. Ireland accuses the erosion of fundamental freedoms by the Taliban including the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, particularly for women and girls, LGBTQIA+ persons and ethnic and religious minorities.

Japan expresses its sincere condolences to Afghans for the suffering they have endured following the recent earthquake and floods. Japan remains deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Afghanistan and particularly worries about the policies imposed on women and girls that severely restrict their fundamental rights. Japan urges the Taliban to immediately reverse these voices and take concrete action to improve the human rights situation in the country.

The United Arab Emirates are concerned about the deterioration of human rights, particularly the restrictions on women and girls' rights in terms of access to education and work and

participation in public life. The United Arab Emirates also note that the terrorist groups have been able to consolidate their means and financial resources, allowing them to conduct terrorist activities, which is a growing security challenge in Afghanistan. The United Arab Emirates believes that the deterioration of human rights needs to stop.

UNWOMEN witnesses a systemically deterioration of the rights of women and girls since the Taliban took over. UNWOMEN warns that the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan should serve as a warning to all as it demonstrates how years of advancement in women's rights and gender equality can be wiped away in a matter of months. UNWOMEN calls on all states to work collectively to ensure progress on the rights of women and to end discrimination against women and girls.

Pakistan regrets the state of human rights as well as the humanitarian and financial crises in Afghanistan after decades of conflict and instability. Pakistan addresses basic rights and humanitarian needs by providing requisite assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Pakistan remains a strong advocate of an inclusive, stable, and united Afghanistan with all its citizens enjoying and exercising their fundamental rights and freedoms in conditions of peace and development.

Venezuela claims that the American military invasion of Afghanistan is the fundamental cause of the humanitarian disaster, the violation of human rights and the destruction of the economic and social development of the country. Venezuela accuses the American military of enjoying impunity and blocking access to Afghan's own resources, causing hunger and unspeakable suffering to the population, and preventing the reconstruction of the country.

The Russian Federation notes the efforts that have been taken in Afghanistan to normalize the situation: plans have been announced to hold general elections, inhabitants and foreign diplomatic workers have been confirmed and a decree has been signed to release political prisoners. The Russian Federation accuses western countries, specifically the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain, for the deaths of thousands of Afghan people over the last 20 years. The Russian Federation calls for the unfreezing of Afghan assets and the uphold of fundamental Human Rights and freedoms.

Namibia welcomes the cooperative approach of the Afghan authorities in ensuring access to the territory and in meeting with the Special Rapporteur during his visit to Afghanistan. Namibia encourages the de facto authorities to continue in the same vein for future requests by the Special Rapporteur and other mechanisms of the United Nations. Given the alarming increase of costs in Afghanistan, Namibia asks the Special Rapporteur to comment on the need for an additional accountability mechanism in Afghanistan.

China asks the international community to respect Afghanistan's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and calls on all states to continue to engage with the government of Afghanistan. China states that the grave economic challenges in Afghanistan, such as the lack of  liquidity and economic stagnation, are caused by external sanctions and are detrimental to Afghan people.

The Czech Republic aligns itself with the European Union statement. The Czech Republic is gravely worried about the staggering human rights violations in Afghanistan, especially of women and girls. The Czech Republic deplores the dissolution of independent oversight institutions, including both houses of Parliament, the independent Human Rights Commission, and the independent media. The Czech Republic calls on the Taliban to implement their human rights obligations.

Malaysia continues to closely monitor the situation in Afghanistan and is concerned with the deterioration of the human rights situation. Nevertheless, Malaysia is pleased by the willingness of the de facto authorities to exchange views with the Special Rapporteur. In this regard, Malaysia welcomes the Special Rapporteur's affirmation to continue promoting dialogue to nurture greater understanding and mutual respect. Malaysia declares its commitment to contribute in efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The United States of America is deeply troubled by the human rights situation in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over Kabul. The United States of America condemns the detentions, the harassment and abuse of former Afghan government officials, activists, and journalists. The United States of America is particularly troubled with the expanding restrictions on women and girls in all their diversity. The United States of America continues to stand with the Afghan people as they demand full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Indonesia supports the efforts made towards an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, while remaining concerned with the humanitarian crisis and reports of human rights violations in Afghanistan. Indonesia therefore calls for the de facto authorities to uphold and effectively implement International human rights norms and standards. Indonesia remains committed to provide technical assistance and capacity building to the Afghan people.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland shares the Special Rapporteur's grave concern about the staggering regression in women and girls into civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights since the Taliban took power. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland stresses that in no other country women and girls have so rapidly disappeared from all spheres of public life, particularly secondary schools. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland therefore calls on the Taliban to urgently reverse these policies and practices that restrict the human rights of Afghan women and girls.

Spain aligns itself with the European Union's statement. Spain continues to be committed to defending human rights in Afghanistan. Spain deplores the deterioration of human rights, the extrajudicial killings, the arbitrary detentions and the forced disappearances and torture of human rights defenders and ethnic and religious minorities, journalists, women, and girls, LGBTQIA+ persons in Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan expresses its concern on the devastating humanitarian and economic crisis that severely impacts Afghan's enjoyment of the full range of Human Rights. Kazakhstan stresses the continuous need to ensure good governance to promote and respect the rule of law, the universal human rights, and fundamental freedoms, in particular of women and girls as well as children and persons belonging to ethnic groups and minorities. Kazakhstan reiterates its ambition to see Afghanistan develop into a stable, secure, independent, and prosperous country in which all Afghan women and men can enjoy their full rights and freedoms.

Italy aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union. Italy remains deeply alarmed by the human rights situation in Afghanistan, particularly for those who are in the most vulnerable situations and are exposed to higher risk: women and girls, children, human rights defenders, journalists, and media workers, LGBTQIA+ persons and servants of republic government. Italy reiterates the call for an immediate end of all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan.

Montenegro states that, one year after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan has worsened dramatically. Montenegro accuses the Taliban of not delivering their promises of upholding human rights and establishing an inclusive political system, as Afghan people have been experiencing institutionalized and systematic abuse everyday. Montenegro asks the Taliban de facto authorities to fully respect Afghanistan's obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and to take steps to repeal all restrictions and discriminatory policies.

Belgium aligns with the European Union statement. Belgium condemns Afghanistan for its authoritarian, intolerant policies, and behavior, including ethnically motivated killings, reduced presence of non muslim minorities in the country, child marriage and labor, sexual slavery of boys, women and girls' rights violation, killings and prosecutions of journalists, attacks on persons affiliated with the former security on the recover of a campaign against ISIS-KP. Belgium asks the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on how a better coordinated UN system can promote and protect human rights in Afghanistan.

Canada is deeply troubled by the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur's report especially with regards to extra-judicial killings, disappearances, media restrictions as well as the erosion of the rights of Afghans who have been pushed out of almost all aspects of public life. Canada supports the specially renewed mandate and asks the council to take a firm stance to make up for shortcomings when it comes to accountability caused by the abolition of independent control mechanisms in Afghanistan.

New Zealand continues to be profoundly concerned and disappointed by the ongoing deterioration of human rights in Afghanistan. New Zealand condemns the Taliban's actions and its failure to meet its obligations, which have led to ongoing gross violation in respect of civil, political, and cultural rights. New Zealand deplores the fact that the fundamental human rights of women and girls remain severely compromised by restrictions including on freedom of movement and access to education and employment. New Zealand calls on the Taliban leadership to comply fully with their binding obligations.

Iran condemns the United States and its military coalition for their intervention in Afghanistan for two decades in the name of peace. Iran states that this has resulted in human suffering of all sorts as well as the violation of fundamental human rights in Afghanistan. Iran declares that protection and promotion of human rights of all Afghans are a prerequisite for a politically stable and economically reliable Afghanistan that will live in peace and harmony with all its neighbors. In this regard, Iran urges the current rulers in Afghanistan to provide a meaningful participation of all Afghans.

Turkey remains concerned with the deterioration of human rights in Afghanistan. Turkey continues to encourage an inclusive government and dialogue among Afghan stakeholders and emphasizes on the importance of upholding human rights, especially women's participation in every walk of life and girl's access to education. Turkey supports the mitigation of the humanitarian crisis and is currently operating 4-6 schools across Afghanistan, including girl schools.

Albania mentions that in the year since the Taliban took over, the progress made in the past two decades reversed. Albania declares that the hope that remains halted from the systematic erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Afghanistan comes from the empty promises of the Taliban. Albania supports the courageous Afghan people within and outside of Afghanistan who continue to stand up for their rights, despite widespread girl violations committed by the Taliban and despite the increasing brutality of their rule.

Malawi notes with concern the continued human rights challenges in Afghanistan and agrees with the Special Rapporteur's report on the need for the international community to recognize its role and responsibility. Malawi urges the authorities in Afghanistan to take effective steps, as recommended in the report, to ensure a return to the rule of law with respect for the indivisibility of human rights and protection of mostly vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Final Remarks

Afghanistan welcomes the report of the Special Rapporteur and deplores the unlawful takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, as systematic violation and abuse of human rights continue to accumulate. Afghanistan urges the council and the international community to immediately establish a dedicated accountability mechanism in Afghanistan. To do so, the country asks the international community to first investigate and alert on all violations and abuses of human rights as well as international humanitarian law. Afghanistan then recommends the international community to collect, consider and analyze evidence for any future legal proceeding. Finally, Afghanistan stresses the need to hold the Taliban accountable and to end impunity to prevent further violations and ensure access and justice for victims.

Mister Richard Benet, Special Rapporteur about human rights in Afghanistan, appreciates the many interventions that offered his mandate general support. The Special Rapporteur states that his first visit to Afghanistan was appreciated by many people on the ground, especially women who asked for visibility and solidarity. The Special Rapporteur thinks that what lies behind accountability is a desire for the human rights violations to stop and for the perpetrators to be held to justice as they should be. The Special Rapporteur states that he will try to go to Afghanistan a second time as soon as possible and that he is still engaging with Afghan people and the de facto authorities. He believes that it is worth trying to reach some agreement on some goals and on milestones with the de facto authorities. This is the reason why he asks the international community to support his mandate with sufficient resources. He also asks the international community to support civil society organizations, especially women, as well as human rights organizations inside and outside the country. The Special Rapporteur asks the international community and member states to take necessary measures to strengthen accountability for human rights violations, including potential mechanisms to address impunity, provide redress for survivors and victims, and bring perpetrators to justice. The Special Rapporteur concludes that he is keen to engage in further discussion.

Author: Brenda De Oliveira

Uploaded: September 20 2022 (Originally on CD4Peace Archive Site)


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