The short communiqué warns those now in power in Afghanistan that, if confirmed, the killings would “constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty.” Washington has called on the de facto Afghan government to “effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former Government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks.”
The statement, which was released on Saturday, goes on to demand that the Taliban investigate the reported killings “promptly and in a transparent manner,” calling those responsible to account and making the investigation’s findings public. It concludes by saying that America and its allies would “continue to measure the Taliban by their actions.”
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a 25-page report claiming that at least 47 former members of the Afghan security forces and the military who “had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces between August 15 and October 31,” had since been killed or “disappeared.”
HRW assumes the Taliban had first guaranteed the operatives safety on the condition that they register with the new authorities and undergo screening for ties to certain special forces units. However, it claims, “the Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, surmised that the alleged killings may have been carried out by local Taliban commanders in spite of the group’s leadership’s promises of amnesty.
Last week, a US delegation held talks with representatives of the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, calling on the group to guarantee the right to education for women and girls in Afghanistan. The American officials also “expressed deep concern regarding allegations of human rights abuses.” In turn, the new authorities in Kabul urged Washington to unfreeze Afghan financial assets abroad and lift sanctions.
The Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in August, after years of insurgency. The country’s Western-backed government crumbled when left to fend for itself by the US and NATO, which had pulled out much of their military by the end of the summer. The hardline Islamist group had been at the helm from 1996 until 2001, when the US-led invasion brought about the end of its rule. Back then, it was notorious for enforcing an extreme version of Sharia law. Nowadays, however, it is anxious to gain international recognition, and claims it has done away with the barbaric practices of the past.
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