UN expert warns of ‘deteriorating human rights situation’ in Afghanistan – JURIST

UN experts warned on Friday that Afghanistan currently faces a “deteriorating human rights situation.” In a report submitted to the UN General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennet underscored an array of challenges afflicting Afghanistan, primarily attributable to the policies and actions undertaken by the Taliban as well as persisting humanitarian and economic crises in the region.

Bennet emphasized the need to reinstate girls’ education beyond the sixth grade and women’s access to universities, reiterating the UN’s position that the Taliban’s suspension of these opportunities constitutes “gender persecution.” He further opined that the Taliban’s policy of restricting education to religious teachings carries the risk of radicalization and increases the potential for terrorism. Moreover, the Taliban’s ongoing crackdown on journalists and minimization of the civic space in Afghanistan underscores the vital role that free expression and media play in society.

Bennet called upon the international community to launch immediate and collaborative measures to avert any further suffering in Afghanistan and the broader region. He said any measures would need to prioritize human rights and advocate for the rights of Afghan women and girls, placing them above geopolitical interests in the region. Bennet ended his statement by noting:

Finally, to end on a positive note, the majority of Afghans are under 25. Youth are the future of Afghanistan; we need to invest in them as they have the aspirations and the skills to break the cycle of violence and repression and take the country forward to peaceful and prosperous future.

Between October 7 and October 15, Afghanistan was hit by a series of earthquakes, leading to the loss of more than 2,400 lives and the injury of approximately 10,000 individuals. On October 22, a UN official stated the quakes put Afghani women and girls in a “deadly situation” as they were disproportionately impacted and marginalized in crisis response and recovery efforts. These issues are compounded by a recently unveiled deportation plan for Afghans in Pakistan, which could result in the deportation of 1.4 million Afghans who fled to Pakistan. The UN has also condemned this plan and called upon Pakistan to stop its implementation.

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