HRW Calls For Tougher Steps Against Taliban Leaders For Rights Violations

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday called on the International Community to take tougher steps and impose strict restrictions on Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in response to the human rights violations.

Associate Director of HRW’s Women’s Rights Division, Heather Barr said that since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August, a grave human rights crisis has been unfolding, especially for women.

Barr said that the Taliban on March 23 announced a decision to continue their ban on girls’ secondary schooling and it earned simultaneous condemnation from the European Union, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and 16 female foreign ministers.

Barr called on the international community not to rely on mere condemnations and instead, the “world should take bold steps to show the Taliban that they are ready to defend the rights of Afghans, particularly women and girls, in meaningful ways.”

Barr also recommended that the United Nations return to a travel ban imposed by the Security Council in 1999 on several Taliban leaders in response to the group’s terrorist activities.

The ban was partially suspended in 2019 to allow Taliban figures to participate in peace talks with the United States.

“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,” Barr said.

Barr mentioned the names of current Taliban leaders that should be banned from traveling as Abdul-Haq Wassiq, head of the intelligence agency, whose forces have carried out extrajudicial executions and detained and beaten journalists – 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, and Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s highest religious leader, who reportedly played a decisive role in extending the ban on girls’ secondary education.

Barr also recommended that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should visit Afghanistan in a bid to redirect world attention to the situation, increase pressure on the Taliban to respect human rights, and prompt global solutions to end the dire humanitarian crisis.

“Afghan women and girls are watching their rights vanish before their eyes. They need more from the world than concern. They need action,” Barr concluded. 

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