HRW calls for reinstating travel bans on Afghan Taliban leaders

Kabul, June 9 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Thursday for tougher measures against the Taliban in Afghanistan, including expanding the list of leaders who are under international travel bans.

United Nations Security Council sanctions in 1999 included an international travel ban on some Taliban leaders, and were expanded after 9/11, with the ban partially suspended in 2019 to allow members to participate in peace talks with the United States to end almost two decades of war.

“The Security Council will be reviewing these exemptions in June and has an opportunity to refocus the ban on specific Taliban leaders who have been implicated in serious rights violations,” the associate director of HRW’s Women’s Rights Division Heather Barr said.

Some of the Taliban leaders that Barr suggested special attention should be paid to were “Abdul-Haq Wassiq, head of the intelligence agency, whose forces have carried out extrajudicial executions and detained and beaten journalists,” and Shaykh Muhammad Khalid Hanafi, “who as head of the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, has imposed many of the most egregious restrictions on women and girls.”

She also called for a reimposition of a travel ban on the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, whom she said had “played a decisive role in extending the ban on girls’ secondary education.”

The last revision of this 2019 travel ban exemption, which the UN specifies on its website only applies to trips required to participate in peace and stability discussions, is dated March 21, 2022, and will end on June 20.

Along with this measure, Barr also suggested an official visit to Afghanistan by the UN Secretary General António Guterres, saying that it would contribute to increasing pressure on the Taliban and bring global attention to help end the serious humanitarian crisis in the country.

She also suggested an independent review of the UN mission in Afghanistan and its human rights monitoring.

“It’s time for governments to turn consensus that the Taliban’s actions are unlawful into coordinated actions that show the Taliban that the world is ready to defend the rights of Afghans, particularly women and girls, in meaningful ways,” she said. EFE


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