Republican senators seek new sanctions against Taliban

US Senate. Photo: Reuters

A group of Republican senators on Wednesday were preparing to introduce a bill to impose tough new sanctions on the Taliban for human rights abuses in Afghanistan, US media reported.

Fox News reported that the bill requires the president to sanction the Taliban for its “terrorist activity,” drug trafficking and human rights abuses, including abuses against women.

According to the report, the bill would block and prohibit all transactions in property held by the Taliban, as well as invalidate all visas or other documentation permitting entry to the US.

The legislation, titled the Taliban Sanctions Act, will be introduced by Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, along with eighteen GOP senators, the report said.

Quoted by Fox News, Risch said Congress must act swiftly to pass the bill as the Taliban influence grows without a strong US presence in Afghanistan.

“Since the fall of Kabul in 2021, the Taliban has repressed Afghanistan’s women, minorities, and youth, diverted aid from Afghans in desperate need, taken hostages to achieve political gain, and allowed Afghanistan to once again become a safe-haven for terrorists. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration’s response has failed to curtail Taliban abuses,” Risch told Fox News Digital.

“We cannot simply scold the Taliban and expect it to change conduct,” he said. “With the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban’s ascent to power, Afghanistan has become a pariah state and our policies should reflect this reality,” he added.

The bill lists several demands the Taliban must meet to avoid further sanctions. This includes separating ties from all terrorist groups, granting humanitarian groups full access to its territory to provide for vulnerable residents, allowing residents to leave its territory, and a recognition of human rights, women rights, and freedom of the press.

Over nearly two years of its rule in Afghanistan, Taliban has closed secondary schools for girls and banned them from getting a university education. Women have also been banned from working for aid agencies, including the UN.  In addition, UN reports have stated the Taliban has detained and abused former security force members, activists and journalists in the almost two years since the collapse of the former government. The Taliban has rejected the findings of such reports.