Saturday, 2 March 2024
Afghanistan Human Rights Situation Report 2023

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The human rights situation in Afghanistan, particularly the human rights situation of women and girls has continued to deteriorate in 2023. Taliban have introduced new restrictions to women’s work, education and movement and there is increased enforcement of bans and limitations. In 2023, Rawadari has documented various forms of violations of the right to life, including targeted, mysterious, and extrajudicial killings, particularly retaliatory attacks against former government officials, their family members and relatives. Additionally, the increase in arbitrary and unlawful detentions, torture, mistreatment, and killing of prisoners, enforced disappearances, and the implementation of cruel and inhumane punishments are other significant indicators of the dire and human rights situation in Afghanistan.

Taliban’s brutal crackdown of the civic space was a continuing trend in 2023. Rawadari recorded over 600 cases of arbitrary and unlawful detention of protestors, former government employees, human rights defenders, journalists and Taliban critics. Access to legal aid is limited or non-existent and there are widespread claims of torture in detention.

The situation is particularly grim for women and girls in Afghanistan. In 2023, Taliban introduced new restrictions on women’s rights as well as more severely enforcing the prior restrictions through public punishments and detentions of women. Taliban restricted Afghan women working for the UN from reporting to work in April 2023. The restrictions on education, employment and movement continued and were more severely enforced, including the restrictions on women’s access to higher education, women’s travel and movement and women’s outfit and public appearance. Women and girls were further eroded from the public space in 2023 with exclusion from university entrance exams, order of closure for beauty salons, banning entry to the National Park in Bamiyan, and in some provinces bans on women visiting shrines and going to restaurants. Afghanistan is on a trajectory of increased violations of women’s rights both in public and private sphere with no access to remedy or justice for victims and survivors.


Over the course of 2023, Rawadari monitored the human rights situation in Afghanistan and collected information and evidence on violations of civil and political rights. During this period, Rawadari observers gathered information from local sources in 28 provinces1 of Afghanistan. This information was registered in Rawadari’s information bank and analysed for the purpose of this report. Victims and survivors, eyewitnesses, officials from health centres and teachers from educational institutions, human rights advocates, defence lawyers, former and current employees of judicial and legal institutions and released detainees have been among the most important sources for this report. The cases of human rights violations reflected in this report have been verified by at least three sources. Findings from previous Rawadari reports and other relevant reports published by human rights organizations have also been utilized in the drafting of this report. In addition, documents, decrees, and official letters issued by the Taliban in 2023, and available to Rawadari’s documentation team are among other sources of information included in this report.

Access to information about human rights violations was more challenging in 2023 compared to 2022 indicting further restrictions and increased intimidation by the Taliban. There are a few ways in which Taliban are actively suppressing information related to violations of human rights: Taliban have required released detainees and prisoners to commit to not sharing any information with media and human rights organizations. The pressures on survivors, their family members and even those close to them to not share any information have intensified. A number of victims and eyewitnesses told Rawadari that Taliban have threatened them to not provide any information to media and human rights organizations. The same approach has been taken with local media and journalists, to the extent that the Taliban have detained, imprisoned and tortured a number of reporters for covering news on human rights violations. Additionally, in some cases Taliban have banned the use of smartphones to prevent the dissemination of information about violations. For instance, in Panjshir province, Taliban have banned the use of smartphones. They monitor the adherence to this ban through physical inspection of citizens at checkpoints. Although the official pretext for banning smartphones in this province is addressing security concerns, in effect it is intended to conceal human rights violations and prevent dissemination of information about the human rights situation.Due to the pervasive environment of fear and intimidation, a number of victims, survivors and their relatives refrain from being interviewed and sharing information with human rights organizations.

Some of these individuals have told Rawadari that they have no hope for justice, hence sharing information with human rights organizations does not alleviate any of their past suffering. In light of the limitations on access to information, the high risks for human rights monitors and observers, the limitations on women’s movement and work which has further restricted Rawadari’s access to women survivors and eyewitnesses, the numbers and cases included in this case may not  reflect the full extent of violations in 2023. There are also numerous casesthat Rawadari has beenunable to verify and include, which might be included in subsequentreports if and when additionalinformation becomes available.

Details about the identity of victims and survivors as well as the exact dates and locations of a number of incidents have been deliberately withheld to ensure the security of sources and victims. Additionally, since Rawadari has previously published a mid-year report on the human rights situation in the first six months of 2023, the examples in this report are mostly from July-December 2023 period.


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