Afghanistan – Human Rights in a Lawless Society

Report from Mohammad Asghar Surush, Afghan Human Rights Activist and  November 09, 2022:

There is a quote by Thomas Hobbes that says; “where there is no common power, there is no law”. This applies to the current situation in Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban. At the moment, there is no law governing the country. When the Taliban took over the country on August 15, 2021, they abrogated all laws and regulations including Afghanistan’s constitution.   Hanafi Sharia is the principle of their governance. In criminal trials, they apply Islamic Interpretive Books like Bada’i as Sanai, Dur ul Mukhtar, and Hedaya. In their administration and governance, they apply a book called “Administrative Principle of Islamic Emarat”. In such a government, how will human rights and the basic rights of Afghan citizens be respected, protected, and realized?

Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, and Torture

Since mid-August 2021, there have been widespread reports of the Taliban’s arbitrary arrest, detention, and torture of Afghan citizens across the country. Based on the annual report of the Afghanistan National Resistance, in the past year, 2299 Afghan civilians including members of the former government, women, children, journalists, and civil and political activists, have been arrested, tortured, and shot by the Taliban.

According to the ISHR report from the ground, more than 246 civilians were  arrested in Panjshir province alone. Of the total detainees, only 18 of them were released, the situation of the others are unknown. The report indicates that the Taliban soldiers committed inhumane treatment and torture with Panjshiri detainees. The Taliban soldiers pulled off the fingers of the detainees, cut their ears, beat them by butt stock and whipped them, and was run on their stomachs. A resident of Panjshir province (he didn’t want to reveal his name) said to ISHR: “Unfortunately, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed by the Taliban in Panjshir province, away from the eyes of the media. Every day Panjshiri residents are tortured, detained, and arbitrary arrest by the Taliban without  reason”.

Forced displacement and usurpation of people’s property

Since the past year, the Taliban forcefully displaced and evicted hundreds of residents in Daikundi, Baghlan, Faryab, Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamian, Panjshir, Sar-e-Pull, Takhar, and Badakhshan provinces. Still, there is no exact number of displaced families in some mentioned provinces, but some reports indicate that 800 families in Takhar, 700 families in Daikundi, 104 families in Baghlan (Khost & Andarabha), 8 families in Bamian provinces were forcefully displaced.

Freedom of Speech & Expression

Freedom of expression is utterly restricted by the Taliban. They strictly control the media. The Taliban regime is absolutely against criticism. They do not bear at least minor criticisms. Anyone who criticizes their policies, governance, and performance, definitely will be arrested, tortured, and detained.

Media and journalists face a grave situation in the country. According to the RFS investigative report, 59,39% of media were closed and stopped their work. 59,86% of journalists and media workers have lost their jobs. Female journalists were the primary victims of this situation. Of 34 provinces of Afghanistan, there is no female journalist in 11 provinces. Since the last year, more than 80 journalists detained, tortured, and imprisoned by the Taliban.

All foreign serials, TV entertainment programs, and music have been banned by Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Female journalists must wear Hijab and mask during presenting TV programs.

Freedom of Assembly & Association

The right to freedom of assembly and association has always been violated by the Taliban. In the past year, Afghan women have been in struggling for their basic rights. They have launched various civic demonstrations in Kabul and other provinces of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Taliban suppressed their demonstrations, detained and tortured the women protesters. In the last demonstration in the west of Kabul, circa 30 young female protesters were detained. After getting a guarantee from their families, the Taliban released them.