ICC called upon to ban Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch has called for the International Cricket Council (ICC) to follow through on its own anti-discrimination policy and suspend Taliban-run Afghanistan from ICC membership.

The organisation's director of global initiatives Minky Worden said the suspension of Afghanistan from participating in international cricket should stand "until women and girls can once again participate in education and sport in the country".

The call from the New York-based body - a non-governmental group which conducts research and advocacy on human rights - follows Cricket Australia's decision to pull the national team out of the ODI series against Afghanistan in the United Arab Emirates in March.

In a statement, Cricket Australia said it was committed to "supporting growing the game for women and men around the world, including Afghanistan".

Afghan fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq Murid called the decision "childish" and accused Australia of taking away Afghans' only reason for happiness instead of being supportive.

The Afghanistan Cricket Board said it was "extremely disappointed and saddened by the pathetic statement" from Cricket Australia and it would complain to the International Cricket Council.

Worden, however, pointed to the ICC's 'Anti-Discrimination Policy for International Cricket' which states the ICC is committed to ensuring that wherever cricket is played it can be all enjoyed by all.

In particular, the policy notes that the ICC "strives to ensure that all such participants can enjoy the sport without being the subject of conduct that is offensive, insulting, humiliating or intimidating on the basis of ... gender."

Worden said since taking power "the Taliban have imposed a long and growing list of rules and policies that comprehensively prevent women and girls from exercising their fundamental rights".

"Taliban forces closed training centres and threatened athletes with violence, athletes have reported," she said.

"As a result, some Afghan women and girl athletes went into hiding and sought to destroy evidence of their ties to sport, including medals and sport kits. Many athletes remain in Afghanistan, unable to safely train and play their sports."