CIVICUS Monitor Reports Taliban Crackdown on Civic Space in Afghanistan
The global civil society organization and alliance, CIVICUS Monitor, has downgraded Afghanistan’s rating to the lowest possible category on the scale – ‘closed’ – citing the Taliban’s systematic and increasing crackdown on civic space in the country since their return to power in August 2021. According to the monitor, Afghans who are exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of association, peaceful gathering, and expression are regularly detained and attacked in the country.
Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Afghanistan
The situation of human rights in Afghanistan has significantly worsened in recent months. Women, social activists, academics, and journalists have been targeted, leading to growing concerns among human rights activists. In March 2023, Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, expressed deep concerns regarding the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. In presenting his report to the UN Human Rights Council in March, he stated that human rights defenders who peacefully protested the increased restrictions on women and girls were at heightened risk and increasingly beaten and arrested.
Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders
Human rights defenders, civil society organizations, and journalists are all facing tremendous pressure in Afghanistan. They are subject to intimidation, including phone calls, verbal attacks, and arbitrary detentions. The Taliban have gradually restricted women’s rights, including education, work, and appearing in public spaces, completely erasing Afghan women and girls from public life. In April 2023, the Taliban banned Afghan women from working for the UN in Afghanistan, which sparked serious criticism from the global organization. Although the UN agencies continue their operations in Afghanistan, their female employees have stayed at home, disappointed by the UN’s move.