Afghanistan: Keep the pressure on the Taliban to create a safer space for women, HRDs, and journalists

Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Interactive Debate on the High Commissioner’s update on Afghanistan 

Delivered by Horia Mosadiq 

CIVICUS and Safety and Risk Mitigation Organization thank the High Commissioner for her update. 

We remain deeply concerned with the escalating restrictions to fundamental freedoms, threats against human rights defenders, and curtailment of the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban assumed power, women, and girls in Afghanistan are increasingly restricted in their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and even movement. It has become the only country in the world to prohibit girls’ education. The Taliban issued a directive on 7 May mandating women and girls to fully cover themselves in public and leave home only in cases of necessity. Women human rights defenders have been subjected to numerous human rights violations, including abductions, enforced disappearances, and assaults with impunity.

Last month, the Taliban dissolved the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. This act symbolizes the complete disintegration of accountability mechanisms in the country.

We welcome the scrutiny of the Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, especially in the context of his recent visit to the country, which is an important step towards any future accountability. The crisis facing women and girls merits further investigation. We call on the Council to ensure both adequate support to the Special Rapporteur and to stand ready to take further action, on both prevention and accountability initiatives, as the situation deteriorates. 

We further call on States to provide Afghan human rights defenders with financial, diplomatic and political support, including by issuing humanitarian visas and funding resettlement programmes, and to apply pressure on the Taliban to create a safer space for human rights defenders and journalists in Afghanistan.

We thank you.