Taliban dissolves Afghanistan's human rights commission, says it was "not considered necessary"
Kabul — Taliban authorities on Tuesday said they had dissolved Afghanistan's independent human rights commission as it was "not considered necessary." The hardline Islamists have closed several bodies that protected the freedoms of Afghans, including the electoral commission and the ministry for women's affairs, since they seized power last August.
"We have some other organizations to carry out activities related to human rights, organizations that are linked to the judiciary," deputy government spokesman Inamullah Samangani told AFP, without elaborating.
The work of the rights commission, which included documenting civilian casualties of Afghanistan's two-decade war, was halted when the Taliban ousted a U.S.-backed government last year and the body's top officials fled the country. The National Security Council and a reconciliation council that promoted peace were also shut down at the weekend as the government announced its first annual budget.
"These departments are not considered necessary, so they have been dissolved. But in the future if they are needed then they can resume their operations," Samangani said.
The de-facto Taliban government — still not formally recognized by any major nations — is facing a financial deficit of about 44 billion afghanis (about $500 million) in a country almost entirely dependent on foreign aid.
In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to split the $7 billion in Afghan government funds held in the United States between some families of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and programs providing humanitarian relief and help with other basic needs in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan has over $9 billion in reserves — including just over $7 billion in reserves held in the United States. The rest of the money is largely in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and the UAE. Most of the assets that are in the U.S. comes from assistance that the U.S. and international donors provided to the Afghan government over the past two decades. The Taliban has been demanding access to the money, unsuccessfully.
Heather Barr, associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch, said it was shocking to see Afghanistan backslide with the closures.
"It mattered enormously to have somewhere to go, to ask for help and to demand justice," she tweeted.
The Taliban previously promised a softer rule than their first regime from 1996 to 2001, but the group has steadily eroded the freedoms of many Afghans, particularly women, who face restrictions in education, work and dress.
In addition to the financial pressure it is under, the hardline regime is also facing an armed resistance based in the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul. As CBS News' Ahmad Mukhtar reports, heavy clashes last week claimed a significant number of lives on both sides and have sent civilians fleeing the region.
Ahmad Massoud, the son of an iconic Afghan anti-Taliban hero from the 1990s, is leading the National Resistance Forces of Afghanistan, and while they are not receiving any overt support from outside the country, the movement has vowed to liberate Afghans from the Taliban's repressive rule.
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