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U.S. and other countries condemn Taliban over ‘summary killings’ of former security forces

“Those responsible must be held accountable,” 22 governments said in a joint statement.

The U.S. and a host of other countries “are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances” of former members of Afghanistan’s security forces, they said in a joint statement.

“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” said the statement, which was issued Saturday.

“We call on the Taliban to effectively enforce the amnesty for former members of the Afghan security forces and former government officials to ensure that it is upheld across the country and throughout their ranks,” it said.

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The statement, which was released by 22 governments, including those of the U.S., the European Union, Britain, Australia, Japan, Germany and Ukraine, also called for quick and transparent investigations into reports of abductions.

“Those responsible must be held accountable,” it said.

When the Taliban seized control of the country in August, the group announced a “general amnesty” and promised safety to all Afghans — including former soldiers and police officials.

But a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch documented the summary executions or abductions of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces.

Military personnel, police officials, intelligence service members and paramilitary militia members who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces from Aug. 15 to Oct. 31 were among those taken or killed, the report said.

Human Rights Watch said its report was based on 67 interviews, including 40 in-person interviews in Afghanistan's Ghazni, Helmand, Kunduz and Kandahar provinces.

Investigators spoke with witnesses and the families of victims, as well as former government and Taliban officials, before drawing conclusions, it said added.

NBC News couldn’t independently verify the report's findings. 

Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul on Aug. 19, 2021.
Taliban fighters patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August.Rahmat Gul / AP file

The Taliban declined to comment on the joint statement or the report from Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch said the Taliban told it that they had removed from their ranks 755 members found to have committed such acts and had established a military tribunal for those accused of murder, torture and illegal detention.

After it formed an interim government in September, the Taliban, a hard-line Islamic movement, has been faced with a crumbling economy. It has sought international recognition to restore the flow of foreign aid, which has kept the country afloat for decades. 

Their leaders have tried to portray a more moderate and tolerant image, repeatedly announcing that former government workers, including members of the armed forces, had nothing to fear from them. 

But the Human Rights Watch report said ex-soldiers and police officials who surrendered and registered to get letters guaranteeing their safety had been screened to see whether they had ties to particular military, police or special forces units or former provincial authorities. They were also required to surrender weapons, it said.

“The Taliban have used these screenings to detain and summarily execute or forcibly disappear individuals within days of their registration, leaving their bodies for their relatives or communities to find,” the report said.

It added that in some provinces, local Taliban commanders had drawn up lists of people to be targeted.

“The pattern of killings has sown terror throughout Afghanistan, as no one associated with the former government can feel secure they have escaped the threat of reprisal,” the report said.