Afghan resettlement schemes must protect the non-religious, Humanists UK tells UN

1 October, 2021

Photo by Jean-Marc Ferré

Humanists UK has called on the UN Human Rights Council to take greater action to protect the human rights of religious and non-religious minority groups in Afghanistan facing persecution in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

Speaking via a video intervention, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson stated,

‘Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan was one of the 13 countries where blasphemy or apostasy is punishable by death. The Taliban’s history and current actions suggest that they will use such laws as a cover for the systematic persecution of religious and non-religious minorities, including humanists, Sikhs, Christians, and Shiite Muslims. We ask the Council, what steps can be taken to ensure that the Taliban maintain international commitments to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

‘We call upon this Council to ensure that all resettlement programmes are inclusive of non-religious and apostate Afghan refugees, who are at particular risk of persecution, alongside those of minority religious groups. We also ask this Council if it will call upon member states to declare a moratorium on forced returns to Afghanistan, and ensure the human rights of refugees arriving from Afghanistan are fully respected.’

He also asked whether the Council would ‘consider the creation of a special mandate role holder’ to ensure international scrutiny of the actions of the Taliban with regards to minority groups.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read the intervention.

Watch the video. 

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