New York [US], July 7 (ANI): With one investigation revealing that over 100 bodies had been dumped in an emptied canal in Nangarhar, Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch (HRW), said Taliban security forces are carrying out abusive search operations where they execute and forcibly disappear residents they accuse of sheltering or supporting militants.
These residents, as per the Taliban, are either members or supporters of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) armed group, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS). However, the Taliban is killing these alleged militants without legal process or revealing their whereabouts to their families.
The actions are targeted toward alleged members and supporters of the Islamic State offshoot in eastern Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban took power in August 2021, residents of Nangahar and Kunar provinces east of Kabul have discovered the bodies of more than 100 men dumped in canals and other locations, as per HRW statement.
During the raids, Taliban forces have beaten residents and have detained men they accuse of being ISKP members without legal process or revealing their whereabouts to their families. An unknown number of people have been summarily executed - shot, hanged, or beheaded - or forcibly disappeared.
"We investigated an emptied canal in Nangarhar in which over 100 bodies have been dumped between August 2021 and April 2022," said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch adding, "Taliban authorities appear to have given their forces free rein to detain, 'disappear,' and kill alleged militants."
Between October 2021 and June 2022, Human Rights Watch, working with a local organization that cannot be identified for security reasons, interviewed 63 people, including 42 in person in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, and 21 by phone.
In November, a team from both groups counted 54 bodies of men, many in an advanced state of decomposition, along a 15 to 20-kilometer stretch of the emptied canal.
The bodies showed evidence of torture and brutal executions -- some had missing limbs, ropes around their necks, or had been beheaded or had slit throats. Healthcare workers in Nangarhar said that they had registered 118 bodies that had been found across the province between August and December.
A media report cited one Taliban fighter who said, "We conduct night raids and whenever we find a Daesh [ISIS] member, we just kill them." The United Nations has reported that Taliban operations against ISKP "rely heavily on extra-judicial detentions and killings."
Over a number of years, ISKP has carried out bombings particularly targeting Hazara, Shia, and other religious minority communities, as well as against Taliban and former government forces.
Human Rights Watch has previously documented Taliban forces summarily executing or forcibly disappearing former Afghan government officials and security forces. The cases from eastern Afghanistan demonstrate that Taliban forces have extended such atrocities to those they accuse of links to ISKP, Human Rights Watch said.
International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, which apply to the armed conflict between the Taliban and ISKP, obligates all parties to treat everyone in custody humanely.
Arbitrary detentions, summary executions, and other forms of mistreatment are prohibited, and those responsible are subject to prosecution for war crimes. Also prohibited are enforced disappearances, which international law defines as the detention of anyone by state forces or their agents followed by a refusal to acknowledge the detention or whereabouts of the person.
Suspected ISKP members taken into custody for criminal offenses should be promptly brought before a judge, appropriately charged, provided access to relatives and legal counsel, and prosecuted in accordance with international fair trial standards.
"The ISKP's numerous atrocities do not justify the Taliban's horrific response," Gossman said adding, "Taliban forces have repeatedly carried out summary executions and other war crimes against people in their custody and have yet to hold those responsible to account."
Human Rights Watch and the local organization found substantial evidence of summary executions and enforced disappearances by the Taliban of people accused of supporting the ISKP, as per HRW.
There was extensive evidence from the Darunta Canal, near Jalalabad, which the groups visited and where they documented scores of killings by inspecting corpses discovered there in late 2021. The interviews revealed that many of those killed were people whom the Taliban had earlier taken into custody. (ANI)
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