Last update: April 2022
After years of insurgency and of positioning themselves in some areas as a shadow government, in summer 2021, the Taliban took control over the country. On 15 August, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, police and other government forces gave up their posts, and Taliban fighters entered the capital and took control of its checkpoints. Taliban leaders entered the presidential palace, addressed the media the following day, and declared the war to be over [Security September 2021, 1.1.1]. In October 2021, the Taliban stated that they controlled the entire territory of Afghanistan [Country Focus 2022, 1.1.1].
On 19 August, an official Taliban spokesperson declared the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a name used in other public statements as well [Security September 2021, 1.1.2]. On 7 September, the Taliban announced the members of an interim government, proclaiming Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada a supreme leader.
All appointments to the interim government consisted of persons from within the Taliban movement, and many served in the government of the 1990s. The cabinet was compromised by several persons on the UN Security Council’s sanction list, including Serajuddin Haqqani who was appointed as Minister of Interior [Country Focus 2022, 1.1.2].
On 8 November 2021, the Taliban appointed new provincial governors for several provinces as well as deputy governors for the majority of these provinces. In addition, provincial police chiefs were appointed for some provinces [Country Focus 2022, 1.1.2]. As a networked insurgency during the last years, the Taliban operated with strong leadership at the top and decentralised local commanders who could mobilise resources at the district level [Anti-government elements, 2.1]. In the Taliban’s current transition from an insurgency to a government the exact structure of the Taliban forces, and the movement’s decision-making practices or chain of command were not fully clear. Policy implementation is described as differing depending on geographical contexts, such as local stakeholders and local dynamics. Moreover, sources pointed at ideological differences between factions within the Taliban and tensions between an ‘older’ and a ‘younger’ generation. Other reports speculated on internal competition and in-fighting [Country Focus 2022, 1.3].
Over the last two decades, the Taliban have been reported to target civilians deliberately as well as in indiscriminate attacks against civilian objects. Reports included targeted killings of individuals affiliated with the Afghan government and foreign forces, journalists, human rights activists, religious leaders and others. The parallel justice mechanism the Taliban have been operating was based on a strict interpretation of the Sharia, leading to executions and other punishments deemed to be cruel, inhuman and degrading, including corporal punishments. The Taliban have also been reported to use torture against detainees [Anti-government elements, 2.5; Security June 2021, 1.2.2, 2.1.3; Criminal law and customary justice, 1.8].
After the takeover, it was reported that Taliban fighters were subjecting civilians and journalists to violence, as well as conducting house-to-house searches and retaliation acts despite the general amnesty that was issued for all who served within the previous government. There have also been reports on Taliban fighters subjecting civilians to corporal punishments, inter alia whipping alleged thieves. It remained unclear whether such acts were sanctioned by the leadership or caused by a lack of discipline or control in the chain of command. There was reportedly room for Taliban fighters to act on their own initiative as they did not seem to face punishment or any consequences [Country Focus 2022, 1.3, 1.5.1].
Other reports refer to extortion cases either directly or indirectly through Taliban fighters as well as to the use of ‘the Taliban brand’ to go into people’s homes, steal vehicles and threaten people [Country Focus 2022, 3.1.3].
The Taliban have also been accused of committing human rights violations against captured resistance fighters and civilians during the weeks of fighting in Panjshir and after that, as well as against alleged ISKP affiliates in Nangarhar and other areas of the country [Country Focus 2022, 2.5, 3.2].
As information regarding the policies and behaviour they intend to pursue remains limited and/or conflicting, the situation of profiles previously targeted by the Taliban should be assessed with particular care and taking into account this actor’s increased capabilities and territorial control.
For further information on human rights violations committed by the Taliban and their relevance as potential exclusion grounds, see 6. Exclusion.
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