Human rights groups criticize the Taliban’s harsh restrictions on Afghan women as a “crime against humanity”

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two leading human rights groups on Friday criticized the severe restrictions imposed on women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan as gender-based persecution, which is a crime against humanity.

In a new report, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) highlighted how the Taliban’s crackdown on the rights of Afghan women, along with “imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment ”, could constitute gender persecution under the International Court of Justice. Criminal court.

The Amnesty International and ICJ report, titled “The Taliban’s War on Women: The Crime Against Humanity of Gender Persecution in Afghanistan,” cited the ICC statute, which lists gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after two decades of war.

Despite initial promises of a more moderate government, the Taliban began imposing restrictions on women and girls soon after taking power, barring them from public spaces and most jobs, and banning the education of older girls. beyond sixth grade. The measures date back to Afghanistan’s previous Taliban rule in the late 1990s, when they also imposed their strict interpretation of Islamic or Sharia law.

The harsh edicts sparked an international outcry against the already marginalized Taliban, whose administration has not been officially recognized by the United Nations and the international community.

In the report, Santiago A. Canton, Secretary General of the ICJ, said the Taliban’s actions are of such a “magnitude, gravity and of such a systematic nature” that they qualify “as a crime against humanity of gender persecution.” .

Both organizations called on the International Criminal Court to include this crime in its ongoing investigation into what is happening in Afghanistan and take legal action. They also called on countries “to exercise universal jurisdiction” and hold the Taliban accountable under international law.

The report also accused the Taliban of targeting women and girls who have taken part in peaceful protests by detaining them, forcibly disappearing them and subjecting them to torture in custody. The Taliban have also forced them to sign “confessions” or “agreements” not to protest again, according to the report.

What is happening in Afghanistan is “a war against women,” which amounts to “international crimes” that are “organized, widespread, systematic,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.

Without giving further details, she called on the international community to dismantle “this system of gender oppression and persecution.”

Amnesty also documented cases of women and girls forcibly married to members of the Taliban, as well as attempts to force such marriages on them. The report says that those who refused such marriages were “subjected to kidnapping, intimidation, threats and torture.”

The report cited the case of a 15-year-old girl who was forced to marry a Taliban despite her family’s objections in the northeastern province of Takhar in August 2021, and that of a 33-year-old journalist and social activist who she was forcefully married to a Taliban commander the following month.

“We simply cannot afford to fail the women and girls of Afghanistan,” said the ICJ’s Canton.

The report says that the Taliban have also carried out human rights violations against Afghan men.

Several monitoring groups have documented reports of “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture” of people associated with the former Western-backed Afghan government that collapsed before the Taliban takeover of the country.

The Taliban have also targeted journalists, the LGBTQ community, rights activists and ethnic minorities, according to the report.

Amnesty International and the ICJ also shared a summary of the report’s findings with the Taliban-appointed Foreign Ministry in Kabul, requesting a response. None were immediately provided, the groups said.


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