Taliban have beheaded or hanged dozens of prisoners, UN report reveals

Taliban have beheaded or hanged dozens of prisoners and publicly displayed their bodies in extrajudicial killings while recruiting child soldiers, UN report reveals

  • UN’s Human Rights Council heard Tuesday of abuses carried out by the Taliban
  • The militant group took control of Afghanistan in August as the US withdrew
  • Over 100 former national security forces and others have since been killed
  • The killings come despite a general amnesty announced by the new Taliban rulers after August 15. The group claim they have changed since 2001

The Taliban have beheaded or hanged dozens of prisoners and publicly displayed their bodies in extrajudicial killings, a UN report has revealed.

The report said the militant group has also been recruiting child soldiers, and has been quashing women’s rights since taking power in Afghanistan in August.

More than than 100 former Afghan national security forces and others have been killed since the takeover, the UN Human Rights Council heard on Tuesday.

Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that in addition, at least 50 suspected members of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province – an ideological foe of the Taliban – were killed by hanging and beheading. 

Al-Nashif said she was deeply alarmed by continuing reports of such killings, despite a general amnesty announced by the new Taliban rulers after August 15. 

The Taliban have beheaded or hanged dozens of prisoners and publicly displayed their bodies in extrajudicial killings since taking power in Afghanistan in August, a UN report has revealed. Pictured: Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 19, 2021

‘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,’ she told the UN Human Rights Council.

‘At least 72 of these killings,’ she said, 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 said.

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, she told the council in Geneva. 

‘The safety of Afghan judges, prosecutors, and lawyers – particularly women legal professionals – is a matter for particular alarm’, she added. 

Al-Nashif’s comments came after the United States and other countries harshly condemned the Taliban following a Human Rights Watch report earlier this month documenting 47 summary executions.

Those killings were of former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents ‘who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces’ from mid-August through October, it said.

The Taliban spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti flatly rejected the report and other claims about extrajudicial killings as ‘not based on evidences.’

More than than 100 former Afghan national security forces and others have been killed since the takeover, the UN Human Rights Council heard on Tuesday. Pictured: Members of Afghanistan’s security forces are seen in Herat on August 6, days before the Taliban takeover

He said there were some cases of former members of the now-defunct Afghan National Defence and Security Forces who had been killed, but that was ‘because of personal rivalries and enmities.’

Details of the killings being brought before the UN council will come as a blow to the Taliban, who are continuing their efforts to persuade the US and the West to release around $10billion in funds that were frozen as they swept to power in August.

In a rare interview on Sunday, Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said the funds would help millions of the country’s citizens that are in desperate need.   

He also claimed Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are committed in principle to education and jobs for girls and women, a marked departure from their previous time in power which saw a history of oppression and human rights abuses.

The UN report, however, brings this claim into further question. 

Speaking to the Associated Press, Muttaqi said the new government wants good relations with all countries and has no issue with the United States.

He urged Washington and other nations to release the funds that were frozen when the Taliban took power on August 15, following a rapid military sweep across Afghanistan and the sudden, secret flight of US-backed President Ashraf Ghani.

Muttaqi’s comments hint at a dire situation in Afghanistan – already one of the poorest countries in the world per capita before the group took control of the country. The UN council’s report is unlikely to help his case.

Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi (pictured in September) has made a plea to the US and the West to show ‘mercy and compassion’ by releasing $10billion in funds frozen when the group seized Afghanistan to help the country’s citizens in dire need of aid

‘Sanctions against Afghanistan would … not have any benefit,’ Muttaqi said, speaking in his native Pashto during the interview in the sprawling pale brick Foreign Ministry building in the heart of the Afghan capital of Kabul.

‘Making Afghanistan unstable or having a weak Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone,’ said Muttaqi, whose aides include employees of the previous government as well as those recruited from the ranks of the Taliban.

Muttaqi’s comments are not the first time he has made a plea for the funds – from Afghanistan’s Central Bank – to be released. 

However, in October, Deputy United States Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told a US Senate Committee that he saw no situation in which the Taliban would be allowed to access the reserves.

Concerned nations have pledged aid to the country, which made up a large part of its economy before the Taliban took over, but many are reluctant to send funds unless the Taliban agrees to a more inclusive society.

Meanwhile, reports from Afghanistan have told harrowing stories, such as parents being forced to sell their children to survive, and droughts forcing people from their homes. 

The UN has warned that more than half of Afghanistan’s population faces starvation this winter, a problem compounded by the fact that many aid agencies fled the country as the government collapsed and international aid dried up. 

International charity Save the Children has called on governments to make urgent exemptions to existing counter-terror and sanctions policies, to allow for the delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid. 

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