ISLAMABAD — The Taliban’s treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan could constitute a crime against humanity and should be investigated and prosecuted under international law, a team of experts from the UN said on Friday. UN.
The Taliban quickly dismissed the allegation.
The statement by the UN-appointed experts follows confirmation by the Taliban that three women were among 12 people flogged on Wednesday in front of hundreds of spectators at a provincial stadium. This marked the Taliban’s revival of a brutal form of punishment that was a hallmark of their regime in the 1990s.
And on November 11 in Taloqan, in northeastern Takhar province, 10 men and nine women were flogged 39 times each in the presence of elders, scholars and residents of the town’s main mosque after Friday prayer. They were charged with adultery, theft and running away.
UN experts have said the latest Taliban actions against women and girls have deepened existing rights abuses – already “the most draconian in the world” – and could amount to gender-based persecution, which is a crime against humanity.
The Taliban invaded Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war. Although they initially promised more moderate rule and allowed rights for women and minorities, they restricted rights and freedoms and largely implemented their harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
They banned girls from middle school and high school, barred women from most jobs, and ordered them to wear head-to-toe clothing in public. Women are also banned from parks, gymnasiums and fairgrounds.
Public whippings, as well as public executions and stoning for alleged crimes were common throughout Afghanistan during the early period of Taliban rule, from 1996 to 2001, when they were driven out during an invasion led by the United States following the terrorist attacks of September 11. The Taliban had sheltered al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.
The experts’ statement does not specifically mention instances of public beatings, but says the Taliban beat men accompanying women wearing colorful clothes or without masks.
“We are deeply concerned that such actions seek to force men and boys to punish women and girls who resist their erasure by the Taliban, further disenfranchising them and normalizing violence against them.” , did he declare.
He urged the Taliban to restore the rights and freedoms of Afghan women, release detained activists and restore access to schools and public spaces.
The team of experts, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, includes Richard Bennett, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, and Farida Shaheed, special rapporteur on the right to education.
Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, dismissed the experts’ statement and hit back at the UN for sanctioning former insurgents who now rule Afghanistan.
Balkhi, in a message to The Associated Press, listed what he said amounted to war crimes and crimes against humanity by the world body, including the “ongoing collective punishment of innocent Afghans by the UN sanctions regime, all in the name of women’s rights and equality.”
Sanctions against Taliban officials and the freezing of billions in foreign exchange reserves have restricted access to global institutions and outside money that had supported Afghanistan’s aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of US forces and NATO.
No country in the world has recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban call their administration, leaving them internationally and financially isolated.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday it was seeing an increase in cases of pneumonia and malnutrition among children, with the level of poverty rising from previous years, as humanitarian conditions plummet and the country is preparing for a second winter under the Taliban regime.