Special Report
Sunday, 22 October 2023
REVERSAL AND REPRESSION
State of Women’s Rights and Civic Space in Taliban-Controlled Afghanistan (2021-2023)

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

This joint report on the status of human rights in Afghanistan has been prepared for the 4th cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheduled during the 46th session (April – May 2024). The collaborative effort involves three civil society organizations and an individual human rights activist. The thematic areas of focus for the report are two issues: “Women’s Rights Situation” and “Civic Space: Rights to Freedom of Expression, Peaceful Assembly, and Association.” The data in this report specifically corresponds to the period of 2021-2023, commencing mid-August 2021, with the Taliban takeover. The report aims to assess the current human rights situation pertaining to women’s rights and the state of right to freedom of expression and assembly since the Taliban assumed de facto governance functions.

 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This joint report was prepared in consultation/coordination with the following organizations or individuals, drawing on their primary areas of engagement and concern.

Rawadari: Rawadari is an Afghan human rights organization that aims to deepen and grow the human rights culture of Afghanistan, ultimately reducing the suffering of all Afghans, especially women and girls. Rawadari helps build an Afghan human rights movement, monitors human rights violations, and pursues justice and accountability for violations. Rawadari works with individuals and collectives inside and outside Afghanistan.

Human Rights Defenders Plus (HRD+): Primarily focuses on advocacy, monitoring, research, coordination, and protection of human rights defenders.

Wazhma Frogh: Human rights/women’s rights activist, focusing on security and violence against women and girls. Wazhma’s data is collected from a network of activists she works with from different provinces in Afghanistan.

Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization (SRMO): Concentrates on civic space and the situation of human rights defenders (HRDs), women human rights defenders (WHRDs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and journalists.

The data/information of each stakeholder organization or individual was collected by credible sources in 29 provinces including Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Nangarhar, Bamiyan, Kunar, Uruzgan, Helmand, Badakhshan, Kunduz, Daikundi, Sar-e-pol, Takhar, Ghor,

Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Panjshir, Parwan, Baghlan, Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Farah, Nimruz, Badghis, Kapisa, Nuristan, Laghman and Balkh. Further, additional data was gathered from stakeholders’ resources outside Afghanistan, for example, human rights defenders currently outside Afghanistan sharing credible information. The data was collected from a variety of sources, such as local focal points, open source, and impacted interviewees/informants.

The joint report offers a series of recommendations tantamount to a collective ‘call to action’, intended to galvanize the international community to hold the de facto authorities (DFA) accountable for gross violations of human rights and actively foster the expansion of women’s rights and civic space. Through careful synthesis of data, insights, and recommendations, the report highlights the severe human rights violations committed by the Taliban and underscores the impact of the regime’s daily directives and decrees which have progressively curtailed fundamental rights, impeding the rights of women and girls and citizens’ rights to freely express themselves and assemble.

The joint report stands as a testament to the commitment of Afghanistan’s civil society organizations and human rights activists who have continued to monitor and document violations despite the increasingly restrictive and challenging context in Afghanistan. It also serves as a call for justice and an appeal for efforts to protect and restore the rights and freedoms of the Afghan people, especially women, who continue to strive for equality and inclusion in society.

 METHODOLOGY

Gathering accurate information under the Taliban regime has posed significant obstacles due to surveillance by de-facto authorities and security risks for interviewees. To compile this joint report, the authoring organizations utilized data collected through careful verification and confirmation from their monitoring efforts. For instance, SRMO maintains a database of incidents and human rights abuses targeting activists, civil society organizations, and Afghan civilians verified through credible sources, including victim/family testimony and two additional reliable sources. Rawadari also implements a similar three source verification process, gathering data from reliable local sources including witnesses, victims, and their relatives. The organizations contributing to this report maintain contact with various networks, including human rights defenders, activists on the ground and in exile, former employees of the previous government, survivors, and local journalists. Data is categorized by gender, type of violence, perpetrator, and province.

The organizations are all committed to the ‘do no harm’ principle related to data collection and have taken measures to protect the identify of sources and survivors. To ensure the safety of interviewees and sources, specific details about their identities are not disclosed in some cases and in other instances to safeguard victims and witnesses, exact dates and locations of human rights violations have been omitted. All data in this joint report has been included after verification by the collaborating organizations.

For full report, please click here.

 

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