ISLAMABAD (AP) — Two top rights groups on Friday slammed the severe restrictions imposed on women and girls by the Taliban in Afghanistan as gender-based persecution, which is a crime against humanity.
In a new report, Amnesty International and the International Commission for Jurists, or ICJ, underscored how the Taliban crackdown on Afghan women’s rights, coupled with “imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment,” could constitute gender persecution under the International Criminal Court.
The report by Amnesty and ICJ, titled, “The Taliban’s war on women: The crime against humanity of gender persecution in Afghanistan,” cited the ICC statute, which lists gender-based persecution as a crime against humanity.
The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as the United States and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after two decades of war.
Despite initial promises of a more moderate rule, the Taliban started to enforce restrictions on women and girls soon after their takeover, barring them from public spaces and most jobs, and banning education for girls beyond the sixth grade. The measures harked back to the previous Taliban rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s, when they also imposed their strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.
The harsh edicts prompted an international outcry against the already ostracised Taliban, whose administration has not been officially recognized by the United Nations and the international community.
In the report, Santiago A. Canton, the ICJ secretary general, said the Taliban’s actions are of such “magnitude, gravity and of such a systematic nature,” that they qualify “as a crime against humanity of gender persecution.”
Both organisations called on the International Criminal Court to include this crime in their ongoing investigation into what is happening in Afghanistan and take legal action. They also called on countries “to exercise universal jurisdiction” and hold the Taliban accountable under international law.
The report also accused the Taliban of targeting women and girls who have taken part in peaceful protests by detaining, forcibly disappearing them and subjecting them to torture in custody. The Taliban have also forced them to sign “confessions” or “agreements” not to protest again, the report said.
What is happening in Afghanistan is “a war against women,” which amounts to “international crimes” that are “organised, widespread, systematic,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.