UN rights office concerned over ‘chilling’ human rights abuses in Afghanistan

By | August 19, 2021

Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern Tuesday over recent reports of human rights abuses in Afghanistan amid the Taliban’s takeover.

According to Colville, the UN is receiving “chilling reports of human rights abuses, and of restrictions on the rights of individuals, especially women and girls, in some parts of the country captured over the past few weeks.”

The UN’s Chief of Field Operations and Emergencies, Mustapha Ben Messaoud, echoed Colville’s concerns about the impact the war has had on children. Messaoud said, “In Kandahar, I have seen the direct impacts of this recent flare in fighting and that impact is severely malnourished children I have seen injured in such a way, that it’s difficult to describe, young children, as young as 10 months.”

Although the specifics on how the Taliban will rule Afghanistan going forward are yet to be revealed, the UN noted there are some positive signs in terms of the right to education. Everyone has the right to education under Article 26 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, a declaration which Afghanistan has signed. The Taliban has promised women and girls can attend school. However, the UN noted the skepticism meeting such claims given the historical oppression women and girls have been subject to particularly regarding education.

Colville’s statement comes just one day after António Guterres, the UN’s Secretary-General, called upon all parties including the Taliban to “respect and protect international humanitarian law and the rights and freedoms of all persons” as Afghanistan enters a new era.