Photo: US Department of State

US monitors Taliban’s human rights violations, reward on Haqqani in situ: US Ambassador

US Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice, Beth van Schaack has said that the United States is tracking human rights violations committed by the Taliban and non-state actors, particularly against women and minorities such as Hazaras.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday, Schaack stated that gender persecution against women and girls is rife in Afghanistan, but also attacks on Hazaras, who have been “subjected to extreme persecution not just from the Taliban but also from ISIS and other groups.”

She called the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education “one of the most unconscionable acts” that has hindered the “growth and vibrancy” of the country, adding that the US is “constantly pushing” to ease those restrictions in its engagement with the Taliban.

She also asserted the role of Rina Amiri, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan’s women, girls, and human rights, saying she is “constantly engaging with officials in an effort to improve the situation and life for girls and women.”

While rights groups and activists have termed the Taliban’s repressive measures against women and girls “gender apartheid”, Schaack captiously said, “We don’t have a position per se on the concept.”

Moreover, the US Ambassador-at-large indicated the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning crimes committed by the Taliban.

“The International Criminal Court does have an open investigation and has indicated that it is prioritizing crimes committed by the Taliban and other non-state actors and that the prosecutor has appointed a senior special advisor on gender persecution who has put forth a very comprehensive policy on how the Office of the Prosecutor should prosecute gender persecution before the International Criminal Court.” She said.

She added, “Now, no charges have been forthcoming, but we do anticipate that they will be, and so that’s an area to watch.”

When asked about the stance of the US on the leader of Taliban’s Haqqani Network and the group’s Interior Minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, who has a US $10 million bounty on his head, and whether the US will take any action to bring him to justice, Schaack said that the US has several reward program in place to identify and bring to justice individuals involved in acts of terrorism which her office does not administer.

“I don’t administer [the War Crimes Rewards] program; it’s a different office that administers that program.  But those rewards programs exist in order to try and encourage individuals to come forward with actionable information to help law enforcement authorities,” She asserted.

“If he [Sirajuddin Haqqani] remains on that, then he remains considered to be eligible… and eventually brought to justice.” She added.