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GENEVA: The United Nations on Thursday slammed the Taliban’s closure of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), calling it a “deeply retrograde step”.

Since the Taliban seized power last August the hardline Islamists have closed several bodies that protected the freedoms of Afghans, including the electoral commission and the ministry for women’s affairs.

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was “dismayed” at the dissolution announced Tuesday.

“The AIHRC performed extraordinary work in extremely difficult conditions over many years, shining a spotlight on the human rights of all Afghans, including victims on all sides of the conflict,” she said in a statement.

“It has however, been unable to operate on the ground since August.

“The AIHRC has been a powerful voice for human rights and a trusted partner of UN Human Rights, and its loss will be a deeply retrograde step for all Afghans and Afghan civil society.”

The work of the commission, which included documenting civilian casualties of Afghanistan’s two-decade war, was halted when the Taliban ousted a US-backed government last year and the body’s top officials fled the country.

Bachelet said that during her visit to Kabul in March, she discussed with the de facto authorities the importance of re-establishing an independent human rights mechanism that can receive public complaints and bring concerns to the authorities.

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