The United Nations says the first four months of Taliban rule in Afghanistan have been marked by "credible allegations" of more than 100 extrajudicial killings, the denial of women's rights, and the recruitment of boys to be soldiers.
Addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on December 14, Nada al-Nashif, the world body’s deputy rights chief, said she was deeply alarmed by continuing reports of such killings despite a general amnesty announced by Afghanistan’s new rulers.
"Between August and November, we received credible allegations of more than 100 killings of former Afghan national security forces and others associated with the former government," said Nashif, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, adding that “at least 72 of these killings” were attributed to the Taliban.
"In several cases, the bodies were publicly displayed. This has exacerbated fear among this sizeable category of the population," she added.
In Nangarhar Province, at least 50 suspected members of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP) extremist group -- an ideological foe of the Taliban -- appeared to have been executed, with reports of "hanging, beheadings, and public display of corpses," according to Nashif.
In his testimony, Afghanistan's envoy from the former government accused the Taliban of failing to fulfill its promises on protecting human rights.
"With the military takeover of Kabul by the Taliban, not only we see a total reversal of two decades of advances...but the group is also committing a litany of abuses with full impunity which in many cases is going unreported and undocumented," said Nasir Ahmad Andisha, Kabul's ambassador to the UN in Geneva. He is still recognized as the holder of the post by the world body.
The Taliban promised a general amnesty after toppling the Western-backed government in Kabul, but the militant group has faced international criticism over growing reports of the extrajudicial killing of civilians and former members of the previous government and armed forces.
Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said on December 14 that the militant group was "fully committed" to the amnesty decree and denied employees of the previous administration were being persecuted.
Anyone "found breaching the amnesty decree will be prosecuted and penalized," he said, adding: "Incidents will be thoroughly investigated but unsubstantiated rumors should not be taken at face value."
The Taliban-led government has rejected allegations of "serious human rights abuses," saying they were “not based on evidence.”
Late last month, a Human Rights Watch report documented the killing or disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban militants.
Overall, the Taliban has “summarily executed or forcibly disappeared” more than 100 former security force members in just four of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, according to the New York-based watchdog.
At least eight Afghan activists and two journalists have been killed since August, while the UN has also documented 59 unlawful detentions and threats to their ranks, Nashif said during a scheduled update to the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in Afghanistan.
"The safety of Afghan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers -- particularly women legal professionals -- is a matter for particular alarm," she said.
The UN official said that women and girls "in particular face great uncertainty with respect to the rights to education, to livelihoods and to participation, in which they had made important gains over the past two decades."
The vast majority of women have been banned from working, while many girls and women have been deprived of the right to an education, prompting key global donors from restoring aid to Afghanistan even as it teeters on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe with rising poverty, a lack of food, and a collapsing economy.
Nashif expressed deep concern about "the continued risk of recruitment of children" by the local affiliate of Islamic State, as well as by the Taliban, with "boys increasingly visible among security forces at checkpoints, as bodyguards, and in combat roles."