Amnesty International and the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ) highlighted in a report released Friday that the Taliban crackdown on Afghan women’s rights could amount to gender persecution under international law. The report noted that the Taliban regime’s actions include “imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment,” opening them up to potential prosecution within the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Titled “The Taliban’s war on women: The crime against humanity of gender persecution in Afghanistan,” the report provides a legal analysis of the recent 2021 Taliban takeover of the region and its effects on Afghan women and girls.
Notably, under Taliban rule, women have been excluded from political and legal roles, as well as the majority of roles in the public sector. Further, measures have been put in place to exclude women from education, beyond primary school. As a result, women have been prevented from continuing their education to university level, with even further impacts on their future employment opportunities. This, coupled with claims of torture and enforced imprisonment, could amount to the crime against humanity of gender persecution under Article 7(1)(h) of the Rome Statute of the ICC.
The report also cites these actions as potential violations of various international treaties Afghan has signed to, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant, Social and Cultural Rights (ICSCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Speaking on the regime in a press release, Secretary General of the ICJ Santiago Canton noted:
The Taliban’s campaign of gender persecution is of such magnitude, gravity and systematic nature, that cumulatively the acts and policies form a system of repression which aims to subjugate and marginalize women and girls across the country. Our report indicates that this meets all the five criteria to qualify as a crime against humanity of gender persecution.
Echoing these sentiments, Secretary General at Amnesty International Agnès Callamard warned:
Let there be no doubt: this is a war against women – banned from public life; prevented from accessing education; prohibited from working; barred from moving freely; imprisoned, disappeared and tortured including for speaking against these policies and resisting the repression. These are international crimes. They are organized, widespread, systematic.
The report also made specific recommendations as to how the international community could assist in dismantling this system. This includes investigations by various bodies, such as the ICC. But the report also suggests that states could take steps to highlight that these discriminatory policies are not tolerated and treat girls and women fleeing from the region as refugees, given the risk of persecution that they face due to their sex and gender.
The issues raised in this report contrast starkly with the Taliban’s Thursday announcement, which stated that they will consider allowing Afghan women to resume working at Kandahar, a religious and political center for the country. announced Thursday, that the Taliban will consider allowing Afghan women to resume work at Kandahar, a religious and political centre for the country.