Taliban breaking promises including over women, says U.N.

by Reuters
Monday, 13 September 2021 11:21 GMT

Afghan women's rights defenders and civil activists protest to call on the Taliban for the preservation of their achievements and education, in front of the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan September 3, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

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U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet says Afghan women have been progressively excluded from the public sphere since Taliban took power

* Women told to stay home, rights chief says

* 'Credible' allegations of reprisal killings

* Bachelet urges global action to monitor abuses (Recasts; adds details throughout)

By Emma Farge

GENEVA, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have contradicted public promises on rights including by ordering women to stay at home, blocking teenage girls from school and holding house-to-house searches for former foes, a United Nations official said on Monday.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Afghanistan was in a "new and perilous phase" since the militant Islamist group seized power last month, with many women and members of ethnic and religious communities deeply worried.

"In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women's rights, over the past three weeks, women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere," she told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Bachelet expressed dismay at the composition of the Taliban government, noting the absence of women and its dominance by ethnic Pashtun.

REPRISAL KILLINGS REPORTED

In some places, girls over 12 were barred from school while women were told to stay at home, she said, in throwbacks to the Taliban's oppressive rule between 1996-2001 prior to a U.S.-led invasion that toppled them.

Bachelet pointed to other broken pledges on granting amnesty to former civil servants and security officers linked to the previous government and prohibiting house-to-house searches.

The United Nations has received multiple allegations of searches for those who worked with U.S. companies and security forces while some U.N. staff have reported increasing attacks and threats, she added.

Credible allegations of reprisal killings of some former Afghan military members have also been received, she said.

Bachelet called for a mechanism to monitor rights in Afghanistan. "I reiterate my appeal to this Council to take bold and vigorous action, commensurate with the gravity of this crisis," she said. (Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)