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No end to reprisal killings in Afghanistan, Ghani's troops bear the brunt - UN Human Rights chief

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UN Human Rights: Reprisal killings and other human rights abuses should be met with immediate accountability, including for individuals ordering and directing such attacks

The United Nations has said that it is quite concerned by reports of civilian casualties and human rights abuses in the Panjshir valley, as well as the growing hardship caused by the dire humanitarian situation there, following the Taliban's takeover of the province in north-central Afghanistan.

Sharing some "deeply troubling information", the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) asserted that the ground situation is a lot different even though the Taliban continues to issue public statements purporting to grant amnesty to former security personnel and civil servants, prohibiting house-to-house searches and assuring women's rights under Islamic law.

"My office has received credible allegations of reprisal killings of a number of former ANSF personnel, and reports of civilians who worked for previous administrations and their family members being arbitrarily detained. In some cases, the officials were released, and in others, they were found dead," said UNHCR chief Michelle Bachelet earlier today.

Addressing the 48th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said that facing a deepening humanitarian and economic crisis, Afghanistan has entered a new and perilous phase, with people profoundly concerned for their human rights, particularly women, ethnic and religious communities.

The UN body has received multiple allegations of the Taliban conducting house-to-house searches looking for specific government officials and people who cooperated with US security forces and companies.

These searches have reportedly taken place throughout the city of Kabul, as well as Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Gardez, Maimana, Samangan and elsewhere. A number of similar incidents have affected UN staff, who report increasing attacks and threats.

Bachelet was also "dismayed by the lack of inclusivity of the so-called caretaker cabinet" – which includes no women, and few non-Pashtuns.

"In contradiction to assurances that the Taliban would uphold women's rights, over the past three weeks women have instead been progressively excluded from the public sphere. In many areas, they are prohibited from appearing in public spaces without a male chaperone," said the UNHCR head.

She also highlighted that a growing number of protests have taken place in Kabul and Ghor, Ghazni, Takhar, Herat, Niimroz and Balkh provinces where Taliban forces have reportedly used increasing violence against protesters and journalists, including live ammunition, batons and whips.

"Reprisal killings and other human rights abuses should be met with immediate accountability, including for individuals ordering and directing such attacks," said Bachelet while urging all states to use their influence with the Taliban to encourage respect for human rights.

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