Canada introduces legislation to facilitate humanitarian aid to Afghanistan

The Canadian Government has announced a new bill to support humanitarian assistance to vulnerable Afghans who are dealing with humanitarian and economic crises following the collapse of the country into the hands of the Taliban in August 2021.

In a statement released on Thursday, the Canadian Government said that the Canadian Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, on Thursday introduced legislation to facilitate humanitarian aid – as well as immigration activities and other government operations – in Afghanistan and other geographic areas controlled by terrorist groups.

According to the statement, Bill C-41, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, will make important changes to the Criminal Code to allow desperately needed aid to be delivered by Canadian organizations to the people of Afghanistan.

“Canada’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan did not end with the fall of Kabul. Whether providing aid or welcoming refugees, we are there for vulnerable Afghans – while always strongly condemning the Taliban’s violence, misogyny, and disregard for human rights. This legislation ensures we can keep making good on our commitment while respecting Canadian law and standing strong against terrorism,” Mendicino said.

“The people of Afghanistan are facing a humanitarian crisis – one unlike we have ever seen before. I remain committed to doing all I can to support the Afghan people, especially the women and girls in the face of unacceptable discrimination solely because of their gender, during this dire situation. The proposed amendment to the Criminal Code will facilitate Canada’s engagement alongside our allies to address humanitarian crises and advance human rights globally,” he added.

The statement added that the legislation would create a regime providing authorizations for certain purposes, like aid and immigration activities, in geographic areas controlled by a terrorist group.

“Those who receive an authorization (and respect its terms) would be shielded from the risk of criminal liability when carrying out authorized activities. Stringent measures to prevent any financing from reaching terrorist groups would remain in place,” the statement read.

Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, said “Canada has one of the most ambitious Afghan refugee programs in the world. We have welcomed almost 30,000 Afghan refugees and we remain on track to reach our commitment of welcoming at least 40,000 by the end of this year.

The statement noted that these changes to the Criminal Code support Canada’s deep commitment to the people of Afghanistan while upholding our domestic and international obligations to combat terrorism.“We are joining our allies in fulfilling obligations contained in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2615 by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people in Afghanistan while ensuring that authorized activities are not under risk of criminal liability,” the statement said.