Gordon Brown urges ICC to recognise Afghan gender discrimination as crime against humanity

Afghan nationals carry placards and shout slogans during a demonstration against the Taliban government in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 15 August 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Sohail Shahzad)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) should recognise gender discrimination in Afghanistan as a crime against humanity and investigate it with the aim of prosecuting those responsible, UN global education envoy Gordon Brown said on Tuesday.

On the second anniversary of the Taliban’s return to power as US-led forces withdrew after 20 years of war, Brown said he had written to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan to argue his point.

“This is the worst example of the abuse of human rights against girls and women around the world and if we allow this to happen and continue with impunity then others may try to do exactly the same,” Brown told reporters.

Girls over the age of 12 have been mostly excluded from school classes since the Taliban returned to power. The Taliban have also stopped most Afghan female staff from working at aid agencies, closed beauty salons, barred women from parks and curtailed travel for women in the absence of a male guardian.

“The International Criminal Court should recognise this gender discrimination as a crime against humanity and investigate it with a view to the arraignment and prosecution of those responsible,” said Brown, a former British prime minister.

Khan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Khan is investigating suspected war crimes committed in Afghanistan over the past 20 years.

The Taliban say they respect rights in line with their interpretation of Islamic law.

Brown said he believed there was a split in the Taliban with some officials in Kabul in favour of allowing girls to return to school, while leaders in Kandahar – birthplace of the Taliban and home to the supreme spiritual leader – remain opposed.

“We’ve got to persuade these clerics that it’s a false interpretation of Islam to suggest that girls and women should not be able to have the basic rights enjoyed by men,” Brown said.

He urged Muslim-majority countries to send a delegation to Kandahar to seek to persuade Taliban leaders “to remove their ban on girls education and women’s employment, which has no basis in the Koran or the Islamic religion”.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Grant McCool.)


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Josie Rowe-Setz says:

    Yes without a doubt. Perhaps elevating the issue further like this will see some action. An entire generation of girls is being wilfully abused and treated as sub human

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