UN says Taliban breaking promises

A United Nations official on Monday said that the Taliban is breaking promises it made about its treatment of women and house-to-house searches nearly a month after the insurgent group toppled the Afghan government and seized power in the country.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Afghanistan was in a “new and perilous phase” after the Taliban overran the country and took control last month amid the U.S. troop withdrawal, raising concerns for women and individuals in ethnic and religious communities, according to Reuters.

“In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women's rights, over the past three weeks, women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere,” Bachelet said.

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The high commissioner’s comments come after the Taliban announced its interim Afghan government last week, which includes a number of hard-line leaders from its reign in the 1990s, but no women.

Bachelet expressed concern with the makeup of the government, recognizing the lack of women and the large influence it has from ethnic Pashtun.

The State Department has sounded a similar note, pointing out the absence of female leaders and the past actions of some of the individuals named to top posts.

Additionally, Bachelet said that girls older than 12 years old in some places have been blocked from schools and instructed to remain at home, actions that harken back to the Taliban’s harsh rule in Afghanistan in the late 1990s before the U.S. invaded the country and overthrew the government.

The Taliban’s new minister of higher education, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, on Sunday, however, said that women in Afghanistan will be permitted to study in gender-segregated university classrooms.

Haqqani also said the women will be required to abide by a strict dress code which includes hijabs.

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Bachelet said that the insurgent group has not made good on its vows to grant amnesty to ex-civil servants and security officers who were connected to the former government, and stop house-to-house searches.

The U.N. has reportedly received a number of reports that individuals who previously worked with U.S. companies and security forces have been searched, while others have made claims of an increase in attacks and threats, according to Bachelet.

She also said credible claims of retaliatory killings of some former members of the Afghan military have been made.

Bachelet said an apparatus to watch over rights in Afghanistan is necessary, telling the council “I reiterate my appeal to this Council to take bold and vigorous action, commensurate with the gravity of this crisis,” according to Reuters.