US hits Taliban and Iranian officials with human rights sanctions

Antony Blinken says actions largely aimed at those responsible for gender-based violence and repressing women

Two Taliban officials were hit with human rights sanctions for their repression of women and girls in Afghanistan, the US announced. AP
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The US on Friday imposed sanctions on dozens of people, including some from Afghanistan and Iran, for committing human rights abuses.

The action, carried out by the Treasury and State departments, comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international document drafted by the UN enshrining the rights and freedoms of all people.

“Abuses of human rights and fundamental freedoms – wherever they occur in the world – strike at the heart of our shared humanity and our collective conscience,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.

Among those sanctioned are two members of the Taliban accused of repressing women and girls in Afghanistan through prohibiting them from gaining access to secondary education.

The Taliban have been roundly condemned for oppressing women and girls since returning to power in 2021.

Two Iranian intelligence officers – Majid Dastjani Farahani and Mohammad Mahdi Khanpour Ardestani – were also sanctioned for recruiting people to attack US federal officials in retribution for the death of Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force who was killed in a 2020 drone strike.

Also included in the sanctions are three people from South Sudan for systemic rape and other serious crimes allegedly committed in 2022.

Friday's sanctions freeze property and assets that are in the US and also prohibit designated individuals from conducting business with Americans.

“Many of today’s designations target individuals responsible for gender-based violence and the repression of women and girls globally,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Altogether, the US imposed visa restrictions and sanctions on 37 people from 13 countries.

Mr Blinken said Friday's sanctions were taken in co-ordination with the UK and Canada.

Updated: December 08, 2023, 6:45 PM