HRW says UN report confirms fears of ill-treatment of ex-ANDSF personnel

A former ANDSF member in Helmand province in 2016.

Human Rights Watch Associate Asia Director Patricia Gossman said on Tuesday the United Nations report on extrajudicial killings by the Taliban in Afghanistan confirms fears about the Taliban’s treatment of the former government’s security force personnel.

Gossman said after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, its forces carried out revenge killings and enforced disappearances of former police, army, and intelligence officers. Two years later, such grave violations have not stopped.

This comes after the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report published Tuesday that it has recorded credible reports of serious human rights violations by the Taliban against hundreds of former government officials and former armed forces members, including 218 extrajudicial killings.

UNAMA documented at least 800 instances of extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and ill-treatment and enforced disappearance carried out against individuals affiliated with the former republic government of Afghanistan and its security forces.
This comes despite a general amnesty proclaimed two years ago by the Taliban.

Gossman meanwhile said: “The Taliban have also arbitrarily detained former ANDSF members, providing no basis for their detention and frequently holding them incommunicado. Their families often say they have been given no information as to their whereabouts, or why they are being held. Such cases constitute enforced disappearance under international law, and follow a pattern Human Rights Watch has documented.

“UNAMA cites a recent case in which the family of a former soldier visited numerous detention facilities in Paktia province trying to locate him. After three months, the Taliban returned his body to them,” she said.

She pointed out that “Taliban officials have attempted to dismiss these killings and disappearances as based on personal enmity or revenge and to downplay the numbers. While they claim to have held their personnel accountable for violations, they have not made public the results of any investigations or punishments.”

Gossman noted that when the Taliban took control of the country, the leadership promised amnesty to former security force members, “but this has not stopped local commanders from carrying out revenge attacks.”

She said: “The burden is on the Taliban leadership to prevent further killings, hold those responsible to account, and compensate the victims’ families.”