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EU sanctions three senior Taliban leaders over women’s rights abuses

The European Council has imposed restrictive measures against 18 individuals and five entities under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime for their involvement in human rights violations in various countries, including Afghanistan, South Sudan, Central Africa, Ukraine, and Russia.

In a statement on Thursday, the EU stated that among the individuals targeted are three senior members of the Taliban, namely Abdul Hakim Haqqani, the Taliban head of Supreme Court, Abdul Hakim Sharei, Minister of Justice, and Mawlawi Habibullah Agha, Minister of Education.

The EU imposed sanctions on these Taliban officials for their direct roles in denying women and girls their rights to education, equal treatment, and access to justice.

The EU sanctions include an asset freeze, prohibiting EU citizens and companies from providing funds to those designated. Furthermore, these individuals are subject to a travel ban, preventing them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

According to the EU, Abdul Hakim Haqqani, as the Taliban head of the Supreme Court, has implemented gender-based repression, excluding female judges and restricting women’s access to justice. He has also influenced the Taliban’s ideology on gender repression, leading to the systematic exclusion of women from public life in Afghanistan.

Mawlawi Habibullah Agha, the Taliban Minister of Education, enforced the Taliban’s policy of denying girls access to secondary education and ordering the closure of private and NGO-run education centers, contributing to human rights violations in the education sector.

Abdul Hakim Sharei, the Taliban Minister of Justice, has initiated a concerted effort to turn the national justice system against women and girls in Afghanistan, He has effectively obstructed the licensing of female lawyers and women’s ability to receive legal representation and removed women from positions within the justice system.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the long-time spokesperson for the Taliban, has criticized the European Union’s sanctions on Taliban officials. In a tweet on Friday, Mujahid said that the sanctions are “ineffective” and that countries should instead engage in dialogue and cooperation with the Taliban.

The EU has previously sanctioned other Taliban officials for human rights abuses. In March, the EU sanctioned the Taliban ministers of higher education and the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice for their roles in decrees that banned women from higher education and promoted gender-segregated practices in public spaces.