The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect is alarmed by the Taliban’s political takeover of Afghanistan, which is the result of a military offensive that included possible war crimes and crimes against humanity under international law. The Global Centre is gravely concerned for the future protection of vulnerable populations in Afghanistan – especially women and girls, ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights defenders – all of whom face the threat of systematic human rights violations and further atrocities.
Since the Taliban launched its military offensive on 1 May, over 3,756 civilians have been killed or maimed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced as a result of attacks targeting civilian objects, including homes, schools and medical clinics. Civilians in areas that have recently fallen under Taliban rule have also faced summary executions, enforced disappearances and unlawful restrictions on the universal human rights of women and girls.
The world has seen devastating images of ordinary Afghans, fearing what the return of Taliban rule will mean for them and their families, flooding into Kabul airport and clinging to departing aircraft in a desperate attempt to escape their country. When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan from 1996-2001 they were responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses, war crimes and other atrocities. Initial reports received by UN officials indicate the Taliban is already reimposing a similar pattern of human rights violations, including forced marriage and harsh restrictions on freedom of movement. As they have battled international forces over the past 20 years, the Taliban have also continued to persecute, target and kill prominent women and vulnerable minorities, particularly those from the Shia Hazara community.
For the past 20 years, Afghan human rights defenders and civil society activists have worked at great personal risk to promote and protect the rights of their people. These hard-won gains are now under extreme threat, as are the lives and liberties of those who worked so hard to achieve them.
Jahaan Pittalwala, Research Analyst at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, said “As months of credible warnings have gone unheeded, civilian casualties and the threat of further atrocities have grown. It is time for the UN Security Council to uphold its responsibility to protect, prevent further catastrophe, and safeguard the human rights and humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan.”
Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre, said that, “The international community should not turn its back on the people of Afghanistan. We urgently call on all governments to take every necessary step to ensure safe passage out of Afghanistan for civilians at risk of persecution and death at the hands of the Taliban. All UN member states should offer sanctuary to Afghan asylum seekers and strictly adhere to the principle of non-refoulement. What is at stake in Kabul today is not just about the Afghan people, it is about all of humanity.”