On 15th August 2021, the Taliban returned to power and as one of their decisions, they declared the annulment of most previous laws, including the laws that provided specific protection to the children, such as the Law on Prevention and Prohibition of Harassment against Women and Children. Since then, for over two years now, the Taliban have taken no action to ensure the basic rights of children, nor have they adhered to their legal obligations based on international human rights principles. In fact, Taliban had imposed a set of policies of systemic discrimination against women and girls that deprives girls of the right to secondary and higher education, freedom of movement, protection from domestic violence and freedom of assembly and association. Additionally, the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has put children further at risk of poverty, forced labour and forced and early marriages. In all these areas, girls are more vulnerable due to the existing social norms as well as Taliban’s discriminatory policies.
The findings of this report, which focuses on the violations of civil and political rights of children in the period from 15th August 2021, to October 2023, indicate that due to the absence of laws and legal mechanisms, violations of children’s fundamental rights, including forced and early marriages, sexual abuse, and other forms of violence and mistreatment, have increased in various parts of the country. Girls in particular face widespread and systematic discrimination due to their gender. Additionally, reports from several provinces illustrate that the Taliban treat children from ethnic and religious groups other than their own with more discrimination. There are also reports of discrimination against children whose parents or close relatives worked with the previous government.
The Taliban’s failure to adhere to principles and standards of fair trial, and the resulting lack of necessary legal capacities and support, have led to violations of the human rights of children accused of breaking the law. According to the evidence and documentation available, the Taliban often handle the cases of child suspects through non-judicial mechanisms.
The report contains findings and recommendations that are relevant to the international community, human rights organizations particularly those focused on child protection and the de-facto authorities in Afghanistan.
Data collection methodology:
Rawadari interviewed a total of 181 individuals across Afghanistan in the period of 16th August to 16th October 2023 to compile data and information for this report. The interviewees and respondents included 139 males, 30 females, and 12 children. The interviews were conducted with defence lawyers, judicial and legal personnel, victims, survivors and their family members, staff of healthcare and education centres, human rights defenders, journalists, and cultural activists in 25 provinces of the country. Rawadari’s research and documentation team additionally analysed relevant decrees, laws, media reports and other public information pertaining to children’s rights in Afghanistan in this period.
Data gathering for this report was challenging due to the environment of threat and intimidation imposed by the Taliban. Taliban have imposed stricter and more severe restrictions on access to information, especially incidents related to human rights violations. Survivors and their family members have been prevented from expressing their views in the media or speaking with human rights organizations. Therefore, the collection and documentation of the information included in this report have been challenging and difficult, on the one hand, due to the stringent restrictions imposed by the Taliban, and on the other hand, because of the cultural and social sensitivities in Afghan society around some issues such as underage marriages, suicide attempts by children and incidents of sexual abuse. Another significant challenge is the increased restrictions on the work and movement of women by the Taliban, which hinders monitoring the human rights situation of women and girl children. Hence, what is presented in this report cannot represent all the human rights violations cases facing children in Afghanistan. Rawadari believes that the actual cases of child rights violations are much more extensive than what is described in this report.
Due to security concerns, details about the identities of the victims, as well as the exact dates and locations of some human rights violations have been deliberately withheld in this report.