February 21, 2024

US Treasury Targets Human Rights Abusers: Taliban Ministers and Iranian Intelligence Officers Designated

US Treasury Department

US Treasury Targets Human Rights Abusers: Taliban Ministers and Iranian Intelligence Officers Designated

By Arbaz Ahmed Janjhi

KARACHI, Dec 9,2023: The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has taken a decisive step against human rights abusers in the global effort to combat human rights abuses by designating more than 150 individuals and entities across a dozen countries. Among those targeted are two ministers from Afghanistan’s Taliban and two Iranian intelligence officers.

This move is in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen affirmed the commitment to human rights on the Treasury’s official website, stating, “Our commitment to upholding and defending human rights is sacrosanct. 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.”

Afghanistan: Targeting Repression of Women and Girls

In Afghanistan, the OFAC has designated Fariduddin Mahmood and Khalid Hanafi for serious human rights abuses related to the repression of women and girls. This includes the restriction of access to secondary education for women and girls solely based on gender, reflecting severe and pervasive discrimination.

The Taliban’s policies, implemented since August 2021, have led to targeted discrimination against women and girls, impacting their rights to education, employment, assembly, and movement. Afghanistan stands as the only nation where women and girls are prohibited from pursuing secondary education.

Mahmood, a member of the Taliban’s cabinet, played a key role in the decisions to close education centers for women and girls after the sixth grade. He is being designated for his involvement in serious human rights abuses, particularly in restricting access to secondary education based on gender.

Hanafi, serving as the Taliban’s Minister for the Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, has engaged in serious human rights abuses since August 2021, including killings, abductions, and assaults on protesters. He is designated for his leadership role in an entity involved in serious human rights abuses.

Iran: Aggressive Targeting of Dissent

The OFAC has also targeted Iranian intelligence officers Majid Dastjani Farahani and Mohammad Mahdi Khanpour Ardestani. The Iranian regime’s aggressive targeting and stifling of opponents and dissenting voices both domestically and internationally have drawn global concern.

Farahani and Ardestani have been involved in recruiting individuals for various operations in the United States, including lethal targeting of U.S. government officials as revenge for the death of Qasem Soleimani. They have also recruited individuals for surveillance activities focused on religious sites, businesses, and other facilities in the United States.

Both Farahani and Ardestani are being designated for having acted on behalf of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

The designations underscore the global commitment to holding individuals accountable for human rights abuses and reflect a concerted effort to address issues that strike at the core of shared humanity. As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the UDHR, these actions aim to send a strong message that violations of fundamental freedoms will not go unchallenged.