Human rights a priority in every engagement with Taliban: Ned Price

US Department of State spokesman Ned Price has criticized the Taliban for the slew of public floggings and at least one public execution, saying the group had failed to abide by commitments it made to the United States and the people of Afghanistan.

“In every engagement we have with the Taliban, human rights is at the top of the agenda,” Price said at a press briefing on Monday. “We of course not only remind them of the commitments they have made to the United States but, more importantly, of the commitment they have to the people of Afghanistan to uphold their basic and fundamental and universal rights, something that the Taliban have failed to do.”

He said “the floggings, the public executions” are “clear, blatant, violent, barbaric violations of human rights” which, of course, “are of grave concern to all of us.”

“They harken back to a prior era, to an era that no Afghan or Afghans certainly as a whole do not want to return to, an Afghanistan that lacked opportunity, that lacked stability, that lacked security, that certainly lacked prosperity,” he added.

Price said that the United States takes advantage of its presence at every opportunity “to press the case for the human rights of the Afghan people and to press the case for ways in which we can hold the Taliban accountable for their failure to uphold these commitments”.

He also touched on US special envoy Thomas West’s trip to the UAE and said he engaged with a range of stakeholders, including with former president Hamid Karzai.

“He met with former Balkh Governor Atta as well when he was in the UAE,” he said. “We think it’s important that we hear from a wide range of voices representing the Afghan people and Afghan perspectives. That is something we do here in this country when it comes to the Afghan diaspora, but it’s something that we do around the world, and especially in the Gulf, where we have an ability to hear from Afghans who spend significant or all of their time inside Afghanistan.”