The exemptions to travel bans enjoyed by 13 Taliban officials on the UN sanctions list will end Friday night, subject to an agreement by Security Council members on a possible extension, diplomatic sources have learned.
Under a 2011 UN Security Council resolution, 135 Taliban leaders are subject to a sanctions regime that includes asset freezes and travel bans. But 13 of them benefited from a regularly renewed exemption from the travel ban to allow them to meet officials from other countries abroad.
Ireland is against it
In June, the sanctions committee responsible for Afghanistan, consisting of the 15 members of the UN Security Council, removed two Taliban ministers responsible for education from the list in retaliation for the regime’s drastic restrictions on the rights of women and girls. They had simultaneously extended the exemption for the others by two months (until August 19), plus an additional month if no member objected. And Ireland has spoken out against it this week, according to diplomatic sources.
After talks in which China and Russia backed an identical extension while the United States defended a reduced list of officials and authorized destinations, the latest proposal on the table is to allow six officials to travel anywhere for diplomatic reasons, they said Diplomatic sources told AFP.
If no council member objects by Monday afternoon, it will go into effect for three months. Meanwhile, the exemptions for the 13 officers end at midnight on Friday. A spokesman for China’s Security Council Presidency deplored this week that it was “counterproductive” to link human rights in Afghanistan, particularly women’s rights, with the travel problems of Taliban leaders. “These exceptions are still just as necessary,” he added, denouncing the position of westerners. “If re-imposing a travel ban on Taliban officials is all they want to do, then they clearly haven’t learned their lesson.”
Despite their promises to be more flexible when they returned to power a year ago, the Taliban have largely returned to the extremely harsh interpretation of Islam that marked their first rise to power (1996-2001), severely restricting women’s rights and freedoms and Girl.