The United Nations has received “harrowing and credible reports” of human rights abuses by the Taliban in Afghanistan, including the summary execution of civilians.
Speaking on Tuesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said the reports of humanitarian and human rights abuses include “summary executions of civilians and combat members of the Afghan national security forces”.
She said the UN had a “fundamental red line”, which was the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls.
With the Taliban back in control of Afghanistan after 20 years, many in the country and around the world fear a return to the brutal Islamic law of the past, where women and girls suffered from a lack of basic human rights.
Taliban leaders have attempted to portray an image of moderation in interviews and statements after taking over the capital Kabul, following a swift and sweeping victory throughout the country as US and NATO forces departed.
Bachelet, a former president of Chile, said the UN had also seen evidence of “restrictions on the rights of women – including their right to move around freely and girls’ right to attend schools”.
Furthermore, the Taliban are accused of recruiting child soldiers and repressing peaceful protest.
In the late 1990s, during the Taliban’s last rule of Afghanistan, the group largely confined women to their homes, banned television and music, chopped off the hands of suspected thieves and held public executions.
Bachelet noted that Taliban leaders have recently pledged to respect the rights of women, girls and ethnic minorities and refrain from reprisals.
“The onus is now fully on the Taliban to translate this commitment to reality,” she said.
“In seizing effective control of much of the country, they must ensure, in those areas, ongoing respect for the international human rights commitments made by the State – as well as ensuring ongoing, and indeed heightened, provision of essential public services, without discrimination, to all.”
She did not set a timeframe for the red line, or say what her sources were.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have reiterated they will not allow any extension to the August 31 withdrawal date for foreigners and those wishing to leave the country, as the evacuation of thousands of people continues.