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UNAMA Calls Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice the Biggest Anti-Human Rights Entity

Bayan News – The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released a report identifying the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice as the biggest anti-human rights entity and violator of the basic freedoms of the Afghan people.

This UNAMA report, published yesterday (July 19), expressed grave concern over the increasing powers of the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The report, covering the period from August 2021 to March 2024, states that the self-appointed virtue enforcers of the Taliban have resorted to arbitrary punishment against the people, especially women and girls, at least 1,033 times.

UNAMA also provided statistics that during this period, the Taliban’s virtue enforcers committed 205 cases of mistreatment of Taliban members and 828 other cases against civilians.

According to the report, the actions of the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have had a negative impact on the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens, particularly women.

Verbal threats, arrests, confiscations, mistreatment, and lashings are some of the measures that, according to UNAMA, the virtue enforcers have carried out in public.

UNAMA stated that the mandate of the virtue enforcement agency includes monitoring the media, participating in the media violations commission, eradicating addiction, banning the sale of low-quality gold, regulating private businesses, mediating between individuals, and even overseeing prisons.

According to UNAMA, the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has imposed a wide range of restrictions, including bans on music, shisha (water pipe) use, installation of images of humans and animals, public statues, art sculptures, black magic, and the celebration of Nowruz and Valentine’s Day.

UNAMA has stated that these restrictions are in conflict with the right of individuals to participate in cultural life. According to this report, women have suffered the most from the measures of the ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’ (promotion of virtue and prevention of vice).

The report states that the Taliban’s Department of ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’ has deprived people of the right to privacy through actions such as searching phones, presence in mosques, and asking couples on the streets and in cities about their marital status.

UNAMA has recorded 1,033 incidents where ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’ has used force to enforce its guidelines.

According to the UNAMA report, the Taliban’s Ministry of ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’ has imposed severe restrictions on the media. This department has prevented the broadcast of music, comedy programs, and programs with foreign content. At the provincial level, restrictions on women’s presence in the media have increased. For example, in Kunar, media outlets have been ordered to refrain from broadcasting women’s voices and using female presenters.

The Ministry of ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’ is also a member of the Taliban’s Media Violations Commission. Women are required to appear in the media wearing the full mask and hijab desired by the Taliban.

According to the UN report, under the guidelines of the Taliban’s Ministry of ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf’, women are required to have a male guardian (‘Mahram’) for travel distances greater than 78 kilometers. On November 21, 2022, the Taliban ordered women in Nangarhar not to go to health clinics without a ‘Mahram’, but this restriction was lifted after a month.

UNAMA has stated that on November 29, 2023, the Kandahar Public Health Directorate was instructed that women can only attend work if accompanied by a legal ‘Mahram’. In Balkh, taxi drivers have been ordered not to transport women without a ‘Mahram’. On September 1, 2023, in Khost, it was announced through loudspeakers that women are not allowed to go shopping without a ‘Mahram’.

The United Nations has said that in December and January last year, some women in Kabul were arrested for not wearing ‘proper hijab’.

According to the report, despite the Taliban’s commitment to allowing women to work in the private sector, the United Nations has documented that the Ministry of Virtue and Vice has arbitrarily ordered the closure of women’s institutions. The Ministry of Virtue and Vice has ordered the closure of women’s bakeries in Kabul, closed some women’s shops in Kandahar and Balkh, and demanded the replacement of female shopkeepers with men, and instructed tailors that they are not allowed to take measurements of women’s clothing.

The United Nations has once again called on the Taliban to respect the fundamental rights of citizens and to abide by the seven international conventions to which Afghanistan is still a party.

The UNAMA report is ‘Western-centric’, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman. In response to the release of this report, Mujahid added that the criticisms of UNAMA regarding the work process of the Ministry of Virtue and Vice and the handling of complaints are unjustified.

Mujahid wrote on the X platform: “The rulings recommended by the Ministry of Virtue and Vice, Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, and Complaints Handling are well-known and established Islamic rulings.”

This Taliban official further wrote that unfortunately, UNAMA reporters are trying to evaluate Afghanistan from a Western perspective, which is not correct.

According to Mujahid, under the Taliban’s rule, all the legal rights of Afghan citizens are ensured, and sharia-compliant treatment is being applied to all women and men, and sharia rulings are the enforced laws, and in this regard, no one is being oppressed or violated.

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