US condemns Taliban over reported killings of ex-security forces

Western countries have callled for an investigation into the 'summary killings'

A member of the Taliban stands next to an Afghan hawker selling bird feed at a market area in Kabul. Photo: AFP

The US has led a group of Western nations and allies in condemnation of the Taliban over the “summary killings” of former members of the Afghan security forces reported by rights groups, demanding quick investigations.

“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,” read a statement by the US, EU, Australia, Britain, Japan and others, which was released by the State Department.

“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban's announced amnesty,” the group of nations said, as it called on Afghanistan's new rulers to ensure the amnesty is enforced and “upheld across the country and throughout their ranks.”

Early this week a report released by human rights groups documented the summary execution or enforced disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents “who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces” from mid-August through October.

“Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicised as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances,” said the countries, which include Canada, New Zealand, Romania, Ukraine and several European nations.

“We will continue to measure the Taliban by their actions.”

The Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August as the US-backed government in Kabul and the country's military collapsed.

A different Taliban?

Their return to power came some 20 years after they were driven out by US forces who ended a fundamentalist rule that earned opprobrium for its brutal treatment of women, failure to uphold human rights and harsh interpretation of Islam.

Today's Taliban leaders, keen to gain international respectability, have pledged their regime will be different.

But the new government has continued to carry out violent punishments, and the UN has expressed concern about “credible allegations” that the Taliban has carried out reprisal killings since their victory, despite the promises of amnesty for the fallen government's troops.

In its report, HRW said Taliban leaders have directed surrendering security forces to register with authorities to be screened for ties to certain military or special forces units, and to receive a letter guaranteeing their safety.

“However, the Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find,” HRW said.

Washington held talks with Taliban officials earlier this week, the second round of discussions since US forces left.

At the talks, in Doha, US officials urged the hardline Islamist group to provide access to education for women and girls across the country.

It also “expressed deep concern regarding allegations of human rights abuses,” a US spokesman said.

Updated: December 5th 2021, 7:54 AM