The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan has rejected condemnation by Western countries over the alleged summary killings of former members of the Afghan security forces.
The Taliban's Interior Ministry on December 5 rejected a joint statement the day before in which the United States, European Union, and 20 other countries said that they were "deeply concerned" by allegations of "serious human rights abuses" that contradict the Taliban’s pledge to provide amnesty to former members of the Afghan security forces.
The ministry also rejected allegations by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a report documenting executions and disappearances released on November 30.
"These reports and claims are not based on evidences," spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti said in a video statement released by the Taliban. "We reject such claims."
There have been some cases in which former members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces were killed, he said, but added that they had been killed “because of personal rivalries and enmities."
Many ex-regime security personnel are living peacefully in the country on the basis of the general amnesty the Taliban granted, he added.
After taking power in August, the Taliban promised a general amnesty for anyone affiliated with the toppled internationally backed government in Kabul and former security forces, but the human rights group's findings and other reports suggests that at least some local commanders are not meeting the pledge.
The Taliban said in its initial response to the allegations that those responsible for abuses had been dismissed but provided no information to corroborate their claim.
In its report, HRW documented the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan security forces who had surrendered to or were apprehended by the Taliban between August 15 and October 31.
The group said it had gathered credible information on the killing of more than 100 military personnel, police, intelligence service members, and militia from Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, and Kunduz provinces alone.
According to HRW, the Taliban has also used employment records that the former government left behind to "identify people for arrest and execution," and carried out search operations to "apprehend and, at times, forcibly disappear suspected former officials."
Such executions and disappearances "have generated fear among former government officials and others who might have believed that the Taliban takeover would bring an end to the revenge attacks that had been characteristic of Afghanistan’s long armed conflict," the watchdog said.
In their statement, the Western governments demanded the reported abuses be investigated in a transparent manner and those responsible held accountable.
"These steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances," they said. "We will continue to measure the Taliban by their actions."
No country has formally recognized the new Taliban government. Western countries are looking for ways to engage the Taliban and address the country’s dire humanitarian situation but want to avoid direct support for the new government.
The United States and its allies are conditioning recognition of the Taliban on it forming an inclusive government and respecting human rights, including those of minorities and women and girls.
Other conditions include the Taliban meeting its amnesty pledge, not allowing the country to become a base for international terrorism and allowing foreign nationals and Afghans who want to leave the country to do so.