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The situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan is a topic of some controversy and conflict. While the Taliban were well known for numerous human rights abuses, the post-Taliban government often seems unable or unwilling to protect human rights.


Post Taliban

The Bonn Agreement of 2001 established the Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission to investigate human rights abuses and war crimes. The Afghanistan Constitution of 2004 also calls for an Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission. While the ongoing turmoil, violence and reconstruction efforts often make it difficult to get an accurate sense of what is going on, various reports from NGOs have accused various branches of the Afghan government of engaging in human rights violations.

Law and order

The National Security Directorate, Afghanistan’s national security agency, has been accused of running its own prisons, torturing suspects, and harassing journalists. The security forces of local militias, which also have their own prisons, have been accused of torture and arbitrary killings. Warlords in the north have used property destruction, rape, and murder to discourage displaced Pashtuns from reclaiming their homes. Child labor and human trafficking remain common outside Kabul. Civilians frequently have been killed in battles between warlord forces. Poor conditions in the overcrowded prisons have contributed to illness and death amongst prisoners; a prison rehabilitation program began in 2003.

In the absence of an effective national judicial system, the right to judicial protection has been compromised as uneven local standards have prevailed in criminal trials...

Freedom of speech and the media

The government has limited freedom of the media by selective crackdowns that invoke Islamic law and has encouraged self-censorship. The media remain substantially government-owned. The nominally lesser restrictions of the 2004 media law have been criticized by journalists and legal experts, and harassment and threats continued after its passage, especially outside Kabul.

Religious freedom

No registration of religious groups is required; minority religious groups are able to practice freely but not to proselytize. Islam is the official religion, all law must be compatible with Islamic morality, and the President and Vice President must be a Muslim person.

Women's rights

Women in Kabul voting for the first time in 2004.

The Constitution promises equal rights for men and women, and women are permitted to work outside the home, to engage in political activity, and the Constitution requires each political party to nominate a certain number of female candidates. However, the Afghan Supreme Court is dominated by Islamic extremists that have been issued various rulings and opinions that seem to be attempting to undermine women's rights, i.e. calling for segretation in schools.

During the time of the Taliban, women have had their rights taken away. Matters ranging from wearing nail polish to job opportunities have been severely restricted under the Taliban's rule. One Taliban reported that 'Women just aren't as smart as men. They don't have the same intelligence.' Another reported that the Taliban were trying to protect the women, because during the Civil War, the mujahideen were kidnapping and raping young women. By keeping women indoors, the Taliban say that they are keeping them safe from harm.

In late March 2009, Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed into law an internationally condemned "Shia Family Law" which condones apparent spousal rape (in Article 132), child marriage and imposes purdah on married Afghan women. Although the offending legislation is said to have been dormant for a year, President Karzai was trying to gain the support of Afghan northern Shia legislators and the neighbouring Islamic Republic of Iran, which is Shia-dominated. According to Britain's Independent newspaper, the 'family code' was not read in the Upper House/Senate, and also enshrines gender discrimination in inheritance law and divorce against women [1]

Sexual orientation

Homosexuality and cross-dressing were capital crimes under the Taliban, but seem to have been reduced to crimes stipulating long prison sentences.

See also


  • Life Under the Taliban, by Stewart, Gail B.

External links



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