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Afghanistan: Impunity for Grave International Crimes Must End

HRW Oral Statement - ID with the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan - HRC54

Afghan women protest in Kabul on August 13, 2022. ©2022/AP Photos/Oriane Zerah via AP Photos

Mr. President,

For two years, the Taliban have engaged in widespread and systematic violations of the rights of women and girls, including severe restrictions on their rights to freedom of movement, education, and employment, virtually removing them from public life. Women’s rights protesters have been arbitrarily detained and tortured. Human Rights Watch believes some of these abuses amount to the crime against humanity of gender persecution.

The Taliban have also decimated the media, arbitrarily detaining and at times torturing journalists and other critics. They have extrajudicially executed LGBT people and former government employees and security force members.

Afghanistan has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with two-thirds of the population urgently needing assistance. The Taliban are responsible for worsening this situation.

This Council should do more to end the longstanding impunity for grave international crimes. The work of the Special Rapporteur remains essential; the mandate should be renewed and adequately resourced. The Council should also establish a dedicated independent and impartial mechanism to advance accountability for all international crimes, at all times by, all parties, with the necessary resources and resolve shown in other grave situations.

Much more should be done to defend the rights of women and girls. The June 2023 joint report of the Special Rapporteur and the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls was an important step, but this Council needs to fully implement its recommendations.

This is a devastating and escalating human rights crisis—your actions are urgently needed.

Thank you.

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