GENEVA -- The Hazara and other Shia communities in Afghanistan are facing what seem to be "systematic" attacks that could amount to international crimes, a United Nations (UN) expert warned Monday (September 12).
Minorities have been "arbitrary [sic] arrested, tortured, summarily executed, evicted, marginalised and in some cases forced to flee the country", Richard Bennett, the special rapporteur on the rights situation in Afghanistan, wrote in a report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.
They are also the frequent target of attacks carried out by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
"These attacks appear to be systematic in nature and reflect elements of an organisational policy," Bennett wrote in his report.
The attacks bear "hallmarks of international crimes including crimes against humanity", he wrote.
International crimes cover the most serious crimes of concern to the global community: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Earlier in August, ISIS claimed responsibility for a series of bombings that killed at least 10 people.
The explosions occurred in a west Kabul neighbourhood that is mainly inhabited by members of the ethnic Hazara community, who are mostly Shia.
The blasts came just days ahead of Ashura, when worshippers gather at mosques and take part in processions marking the death of the Shia Imam Hussein Ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
Human rights crisis
The rights situation in the country has deteriorated across the board, Bennett, who began his work in May, warned.
"Afghans are trapped in a human rights crisis that the world has seemed powerless to address," he told the Council during his presentation.
Women and girls in particular have seen a "staggering regression" in their civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights since last last year August, he wrote in his report.
"In no other country have women and girls so rapidly disappeared from all spheres of public life, nor are they as disadvantaged in every aspect of their lives," he wrote.
The overall humanitarian situation was dire, with almost half the population facing acute levels of food insecurity, he wrote.
"Children are suffering from hunger at alarming rates ... Many families are utilising harmful coping strategies, including the sale of children, child marriage, child labour and decreasing spending on healthcare and education," he wrote.
Despite an amnesty, those who served in the Afghan army, security forces and government before August 2021 still face "ongoing extrajudicial and reprisal killings and forced disappearances", he wrote.
Bennett called on the international community to do more to address the situation and to ensure accountability.