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Taliban have broken promises on rights, says outgoing Afghan envoy

FILE PHOTO: Afghanistan Ambassador Nasir Ahmad Andisha speaks during a special session of the Human Rights Council on the situation in Afghanistan, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, August 24, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA The Taliban have already broken their promises to safeguard women and protect human rights, and the international community must hold them to account, the outgoing government’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said on Tuesday.

“The Taliban have vowed to respect women’s rights but women’s rights are disappearing from the landscape,” Nasir Ahmad Andisha, who remains accredited at U.N. bodies despite the collapse of the government he represents, told the Human Rights Council.

He accused the Taliban of carrying out “widespread atrocities” in the Panjshir valley, the last major part of the country to hold out against them, and said they were conducting targeted killings and extrajudicial executions, including of young boys.

The Taliban’s appointment of a new interim government “undermines Afghanistan’s national unity political and social diversity,” he said. The cabinet is made up entirely of men and overwhelmingly members of the Pashtun ethnic group that forms the Taliban’s main base of support but accounts for less than half of Afghanistan’s population.

“At this crucial moment the world cannot remain silent,” he said. “The people of Afghanistan need action from the international community more than ever.”

The Taliban have denied carrying out abuses in Panjshir. They say they are supporting women’s rights within a Muslim context, and that the new interim government will consult the population on an inclusive future permanent system.

Andisha called for the Council to create a fact-finding mission to monitor Taliban actions — an initiative that is backed by Western countries but which diplomats say is opposed by some Asian states.

On Monday, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet rebuked the Taliban for contradicting public promises on rights, including by ordering women to stay at home, blocking teenage girls from school, and holding searches for former foes.

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