The United States Treasury Department announced sanctions on people around the world, including officials in Afghanistan, China and Iran, who have committed or contributed to human rights abuses.
In a statement, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it had imposed sanctions on 20 people in nine countries, including two Iranian spies, members of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban government, and Chinese security officials.
“Our commitment to upholding and defending human rights is sacrosanct,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “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.”
She added: “Treasury’s targeted sanctions announced today and over the past year underscore the seriousness of our commitment to promoting accountability for human rights abuse and safeguarding the U.S. financial system from those who commit these egregious acts.”
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Friday’s announcement came ahead of Human Rights Day on Sunday, the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The Treasury sanctioned two members of the Taliban — Fariduddin Mahmood and Khalid Hanafi — over their links to the repression of women and girls in Afghanistan.
“Since August 2021, the Taliban has implemented expansive policies of targeted discrimination against women and girls that impede their enjoyment of a wide range of rights, including those related to education, employment, peaceful assembly, and movement, among others,” OFAC said.
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Mahmood was identified as a member of the Taliban’s “cabinet” that made decisions to close education centers for women and girls. Hanafi, Taliban’s “Minister” for the so-called “Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” has “engaged in serious human rights abuse, including killings, abductions, whippings, and beatings.”
The Treasury sanctioned two Chinese officials, Gao Qi and Hu Lianhe, over their links to serious human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs and Kyrgyz — members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.
OFAR also sanctioned two Iranian intelligence officials — Majid Dastjani Farahani and Mohammad Mahdi Khanpour Ardestani — who Washington said recruited people to conduct operations in the U.S., including the lethal targeting of current and former U.S. government officials.
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The sanctioned individuals also included: two Central African Republic nationals; three individuals from Congo; four criminal gang leaders in Haiti; Liberian mayor Jefferson Koijee; two county commissioners and a governor in South Sudan; and the Commissioner General of Uganda prisons.
The Treasury said that over the last year it has imposed sanctions on more than 150 individuals relating to human rights violations.
Reuters contributed to this report.