Afghanistan: Killings and “disappearances” of former officials at the hands of the Taliban

(New York) – Since seizing power on August 15, 2021 in Afghanistan, the Taliban have executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers in four provinces despite amnesty, Human Rights Watch said in a report. released today.

Entitled No Forgiveness for People Like You, Executions and Enforced Disappearances in Afghanistan under the Taliban, this 25-page report documents the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces who surrendered or were detained by the Taliban with 15 August to 31 October. Among the victims are military personnel, police, special services and police officers. Human Rights Watch has collected reliable information on more than 100 killings in the provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar and Kunduz alone.

The promise of amnesty by the Taliban leaders did not prevent local leaders from executing or disappearing former members of the Afghan security forces without trial or investigation. said Patricia Gossman, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch. ” The Taliban have an obligation to prevent further killings, bring the perpetrators to justice and compensate the families of the victims.. »

Human Rights Watch conducted face-to-face interviews with 40 people in the four provinces mentioned above, as well as telephone interviews with 27 others. These were witnesses, relatives or friends of the victims, former government officials, journalists, medical workers, and the Taliban. The Taliban leader said that the perpetrators of these atrocities ” can’t be forgiven “.

Taliban leaders ordered members of the surrendered security forces to come and register for a letter guaranteeing their safety. However, the Taliban forces used these lists of names to detain and summary execution or enforced disappearance of these people within days of their registration, leaving relatives or communities to find their bodies.

The Taliban also gained access to professional files left behind by the former government and used them to identify those who were to be arrested and executed. One of the cases developed as follows: in the city of Kandahar, in late September, Taliban forces broke into the home of Baz Mohammed, a former member of the National Directorate of Security (former state intelligence), and arrested him. His body was later found by relatives.

In addition, the Taliban carried out brutal house searches, including nightly searches, to detain and sometimes forcibly remove suspected former officials.

Taliban night raids are terrifying said a civil society activist based in Helmand province. ” They are carried out under the pretext of disarming former security forces who have not handed over their weapons. People who “disappear” [victimes] these nightly searches. Their family members cannot report or confirm anything. They can’t even ask where [la personne qui a été enlevée]. »

During searches, the Taliban often threaten and insult relatives to force them to reveal the whereabouts of the hideouts. Among those detained, some were eventually executed or placed in police custody without being informed of their arrest or without knowing where they were being held.

The Taliban intelligence service in Helmand arrested and detained Abdul Razik, a former soldier from the province, after he surrendered in late August. Since then, his family has been unable to find out where he is being held or if he is alive.

The executions and disappearances have instilled fear in former government officials and others who once believed that the rise of the Taliban would end the bloody vengeance that has characterized Afghanistan’s long-standing armed conflict.

In particular, in the province of Nangarhar, the Taliban also attacked people accused of supporting the Islamic State in Khorasan (EI-K, a subsidiary of the Islamic State, also called EI). According to a UN report, Taliban operations against ISIS ” rely heavily on extrajudicial detentions and executions “. Most of those killed were killed for their Salafi views or for belonging to certain tribes.

On September 21, the Taliban announced the formation of a commission to investigate reports of human rights violations, corruption, theft and other crimes. The commission reported no investigation into reports of killings, although it reported the arrest of several Taliban members for theft and the dismissal of others for corruption. In their November 21 response to Human Rights Watch’s findings, the Taliban said they removed the perpetrators of abuse from service without providing any information to support their claims.

The Taliban’s unsubstantiated claims that they will take steps to prevent abuses and bring the perpetrators to justice seem to be nothing more than a publicity stunt so far. concluded Patricia Gossman. ” In the face of a climate of impunity, it is clear that the United Nations must continue to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan, including through close monitoring, investigation and reporting.. »

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