US, EU and 20 other countries condemn Taliban for summary killings of ex-Afghan forces

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Taliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)
Taliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan (West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

The United States and a group of its allies have condemned the Taliban for allegedly targeting former police and intelligence officers in Afghanistan since seizing power.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces as documented by Human Rights Watch and others,” the countries said in a statement on Saturday.

A report published by the Human Rights Watch on Tuesday suggested that despite announcing amnesty, the Islamist militants continued to retaliate against the armed forces of the ousted Ashraf Ghani government. At least 100 former police and intelligence officers have been abducted or summarily executed since 15 August, the organisation said.

The Taliban have hunted down former officers using employment records left behind by the erstwhile government and have targeted those who surrendered and received letters guaranteeing their safety, the report said.

“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” the statement issued by 22 governments, including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and New Zealand, said on Saturday.

“We call on the Taliban 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,” they added.

The nations sought prompt, transparent investigation of these reported cases and urged Afghanistan’s new rulers to hold those responsible accountable. These steps must be clearly publicised “as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances”, the statement said, adding: “We will continue to measure the Taliban by their actions.”

The European Union, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine have also signed the US-led statement.

The Human Rights Watch said in its report that “the pattern of the killings has sown terror throughout Afghanistan” as no one associated with the former government feels secure that they have escaped the threat of reprisal.

“The Ghani government collapsed so quickly that documents related to the security forces and those who cooperated with them were left behind,” the report added. “Taliban forces ... were able to obtain not only data on employees but also information on those who might have acted as informants.”

The Afghan government fell on 15 August after the Taliban laid siege on Kabul following the United States’ withdrawal of troops, ending a two-decade-long war.

On 21 September, the Taliban announced the establishment of a commission to investigate reports of human rights abuses and other crimes. But the commission has so far only announced arrests of a few members for theft and the dismissal of others for corruption.

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