UN high commissioner condemns ‘systematic human rights violations’ in Afghanistan

Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned the “continuing and systematic violations of human rights” in Afghanistan, particularly against women and girls, during his speech at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council on Monday.

Turk highlighted the severe restrictions on women and girls in Afghanistan, including their exclusion from public life, education, employment, and freedom of movement. “In Afghanistan, I deplore the continuing and systematic violations of human rights, especially the comprehensive violations of the rights of women and girls,” he stated.

Emphasizing the urgency of the situation, Turk declared, “Advancing the rights of women and girls must be the highest priority for all who work on and in Afghanistan.”

He also expressed deep concern over the limited civic and media freedoms in Afghanistan, noting the arbitrary detentions of women human rights defenders and journalists, the resumption of public executions, and the forced expulsion of Afghans from neighboring countries, which poses a risk of persecution, torture, or other irreparable harm upon their return.

Echoing Turk’s sentiments, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Bennett voiced his full agreement with the statements made at the UNHRC meeting, stressing the importance of prioritizing the advancement of women and girls’ rights in Afghanistan and lamenting the “continuing and systematic violations of human rights.”