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[Joint Statement] De facto regime of Taliban backtracks human rights by dissolving Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission

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(Bangkok, 26 May 2022) — The Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights I­­nstitutions (ANNI) and Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) condemn the dissolution of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) on 17 May by the De Facto Regime of Taliban. The dissolution demonstrates the Taliban’s continued disregard of the rule of law and violations of international human rights principles, further deteriorating the human rights situation in Afghanistan.

AIHRC is a National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) with a mandate to protect and promote human rights in Afghanistan. Since the De Facto Regime of Taliban took over in August 2021,[1] the Taliban has seized AIHRC’s office, occupied all of AIHRC’s offices in-country, and interfered in its work.[2] These attacks have reduced AIHRC’s independence and hindered its ability to carry out its mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles to address the blatant human rights violations conducted by the Taliban.[3]

Since the takeover, Afghanistan has experienced massive rollbacks on human rights protection, in particular on women’s and ethnic minorities’ rights through the enactment of discriminatory policies. Women human rights defenders have been killed,[4] and those who participate in peaceful protests have been subjected to violence, vilification and abduction.[5] Women have been restricted from working, receiving an education, and even going out of their homes without a male guardian.[6] LGBTQ Afghans are at imminent risk as the Taliban is actively searching, assaulting and even killing them.[7]

The De Facto Regime of Taliban has also imposed restrictions on the freedom of expression by stiflling dissent of human rights defenders, as it enforces restrictive regulations to harass journalists and media whose reports are deemed to be ‘contrary to Islam’, to ‘insult national figures’ or to ‘distort news content’.[8] Arbitrary detention and physical violence against journalists have continued to occur, further curbing the freedom of expression within the country.[9]

Under the De Facto Regime of Taliban, the AIHRC has continued to struggle to operate as mounting pressure from the Taliban prevents the institution from performing its mandate and many of its members and staff work from outside the country in search of safety.[10] After the decision of the dissolution, AIHRC released a statement stating that it will continue its operations, although in a much reduced capacity, to act on the grave human rights situation in Afghanistan.[11]

The dissolution of the AIHRC emphasises the disregard of human rights principles by the De Facto Regime of Taliban, which has further narrowed the access for Afghan citizens and human rights defenders to an independent and effective human rights mechanism in the country. The dissolution also undermines Afghanistan’s commitment to various international human rights treaties they are a party to.[12] In the presence of grave human rights violations, the AIHRC serves an important role as a watchdog to the De Facto Regime of Taliban in monitoring and investigating the human rights violations they commit, and holding perpetrators to account through regional and international human rights mechanisms.

ANNI and CSHRN extend their solidarity to the AIHRC, which has remained resilient despite the attacks and threats directed against the institution by the De Facto Regime of Taliban. We call on the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) to support the AIHRC to be able to conduct its mandate in order to protect and promote human rights in Afghanistan, and to coordinate with their membership, civil society organisations, human rights defenders and the AIHRC in ensuring the existence of effective and independent human rights protection mechanisms in Afghanistan.

We also call on the international community, international human rights organisations and institutions, and other NHRIs as a part of global NHRI community to hold the De Facto Regime of Taliban accountable for their grave human rights violations by conitnuing to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, and to extend their support to Afghan human rights defenders and marginalised groups in receiving protection.

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About the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI):

The Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) was established in December 2006. It is a network of Asian non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders working on issues related to National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). ANNI currently has 33 member organisations from 21 countries or territories. ANNI members work on strengthening the work and functioning of Asian NHRIs to better promote and protect human rights as well as to advocate for the improved compliance of Asian NHRIs with international standards, including the Paris Principles and General Observations of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA) of the Global Alliance of NHRIs (GANHRI). The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) has served as the Secretariat of ANNI since its establishment in 2006.


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[1] Asia Pacific Forum, APF condemns Taliban decision to dissolve Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, 2022.

[2] Firstpost, Taliban interfering with work, seized offices, says Afghan human rights commission, 2021.

[3] Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, Statement on the status of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, 2021.

[4] Sakhi Khalid, Four Female Activists Died Under Mysterious Circumstances in Mazar-E-Sharif, 2021.

[5] Human Rights Watch, Afghan Women’s Rights Activists Forcibly Disappeared, 2022.

[6] Human Rights Watch, List of Taliban Policies Violating Women’s Rights in Afghanistan, 2021.

[7] The Fuller Project, Queer Afghan lives are at risk under the Taliban, 2022.

[8] Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan: Taliban Severely Restrict Media, 2021.

[9] Ibid.

[10] VOA news, Rights Groups Decry Taliban Shuttering of Human Rights Commission, 2022.

[11] Afghanistan Human Rights Commission, A message from The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), 2022.

[12] OHCHR, Ratification Status of Afghanistan.