Some Afghan women employed by the United Nations have been detained, harassed and had restrictions placed on their movement since being banned by the Taliban from working for the world body, the UN says.
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers informed the UN early last month that Afghan women employed with the UN mission could no longer report for work.
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“This is the most recent in a series of discriminatory – and unlawful – measures implemented by the de facto authorities with the goal of severely restricting women and girls’ participation in most areas of public and daily life in Afghanistan,” the UN said in a report released on Tuesday.
Taliban authorities continue to crack down on dissenting voices, in particular those who speak out on issues related to the rights of women and girls, it said.
The UN report cited the March arrest of four women who participated in a Kabul protest demanding access to education and work and the arrest of Matiullah Wesa, head of PenPath, a civil society organisation campaigning for the reopening of schools for girls.
It also highlighted the arrest of a women’s rights activist and her brother in February in the northern province of Takhar.
Several other civil society activists have been released, reportedly without being charged, after extended periods of arbitrary detention by the Taliban’s intelligence service, the report said.
The measures will have disastrous effects on Afghanistan’s prospects for prosperity, stability and peace, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said.
“UNAMA is concerned by increasing restrictions on civic space across Afghanistan”, Chief Human Rights Service, Fiona Frazer. Update on human rights situation in Afghanistan, February to April 2023 – UN report released today: https://t.co/CY7SVLzMl0 pic.twitter.com/aLjqAiWmQ4
— UNAMA News (@UNAMAnews) May 9, 2023
The Taliban previously banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade and blocked women from most aspects of public life and work. In December, they banned Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations, a measure that at the time did not yet extend to UN offices.
Public executions, lashings
The report also pointed to ongoing extrajudicial killings of individuals affiliated with the former government.
On March 5 in southern Kandahar province, Taliban forces arrested a former police officer at his home, then shot and killed him, according to the report. During the same month in northern Balkh province, a former military official was killed by unknown armed men in his house.
“Arbitrary arrests and detention of former government officials and Afghanistan National Security and Defense Force members also occurred throughout February, March and April,” the report said.
In a separate report released on Monday, the UN strongly criticised the Taliban for carrying out public executions, lashings and stonings since seizing power in Afghanistan and called on the country’s rulers to halt such practices.
In the past six months alone, 274 men, 58 women and two boys were publicly flogged in Afghanistan, it said.
UN report on corporal punishment and death penalty released today:
274 men, 58 women and two boys publicly flogged in last six months in #Afghanistan.
Read full report: https://t.co/hUvWzrn0lx
— UNAMA News (@UNAMAnews) May 8, 2023
The Taliban foreign ministry said in response that Afghanistan’s laws are determined in accordance with Islamic rules and guidelines and an overwhelming majority of Afghans follow those rules.
The Taliban began carrying out such punishments shortly after coming to power almost two years ago despite initial promises of a more moderate rule than during its previous stint in power in the 1990s.
Under the first Taliban regime from 1996 to 2001, public punishment and executions were carried out by officials against individuals convicted of crimes, often in large venues such as sports stadiums and urban intersections.