Kabul, Jun 10 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced Friday the illegal detention and torture of dozens of residents of the northern Afghanistan province of Panjshir, accused by the Taliban authorities of belonging to opposition armed groups.
“Taliban forces in Panjshir province have quickly resorted to beating civilians in their response to fighting against the opposition National Resistance Front (NRF),” HRW associate Asia director Patricia Gossman said in a statement.
“The Taliban’s longstanding failure to punish those responsible for serious abuses in their ranks puts more civilians at risk.”
Panjshir, a historic stronghold of the NRF, was the last region to fall into the hands of the Taliban in September, when the Islamists concluded an unstoppable offensive that led them to take control of all provinces in just a few weeks.
HRW reported in its statement that some 80 residents of the area were recently detained and beaten by Taliban authorities to gather information about the NRF. Out of those, 10 people accused of having relatives linked to the NRF are still being held, the organization said.
The conditions of these arrests are illegal and do not comply with international humanitarian law, it said.
“Taliban forces in Panjshir have imposed collective punishment and disregarded protections to which detainees are entitled,” Gossman said.
The district jail held nearly 100 others with alleged links to the NRF without access to their families or lawyers, while others have been held in informal detention facilities, HRW said, citing former detainees.
“Denying detainees access to lawyers and family members is prohibited and increases the risk of torture and enforced disappearance. Collective punishment – the punishment of individuals for alleged actions of others – is a violation of the laws of war and a war crime,” said the organization
The Taliban government has rejected HRW’s accusations in a brief statement, calling on the United Nations and international organizations not to listen to the “baseless propaganda against the Islamic Emirate and accept the facts that exist in Afghanistan.”
It added that they have treated criminals under the “principle of Islam and human rights law.”
The NRF is headed by Ahmad Massoud, son of the so-called Lion of the Panshir, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who led the resistance against the Taliban regime in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan until his assassination in a suicide attack, carried out by two individuals believed to be members of al-Qaeda who posed as journalists, just two days before 9/11. EFE