U.N. Envoy says ICC should prosecute Taliban leaders

August 16, 2023

United Nations envoy Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister, said Tuesday that the International Criminal Court should prosecute Taliban leaders for denying Afghan women and girls education and employment.

Brown held his news conference to mark two years from the day the Taliban took over Afghanistan following the U.S. military’s withdrawal after twenty years of warfare.

The U.N. Envoy for Global Education, Brown said the Taliban’s rulers are responsible for “the most egregious, vicious and indefensible violation of women’s rights and girls’ rights in the world today.”

He went on to say that he had sent a legal opinion to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan which shows that denying women and girls education and employment is “gender discrimination, which should count as a crime against humanity, and it should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.”

The ICC in the Hague has indicted world leaders before, such as Slobodan Milosovic in 2002 for crimes against Albanian Serbs, though he died in his cell before his four-year trial came to a close.

In March of this year, the organization issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the repeated war crime of abducting Ukrainian children from their homes and moving them to Russia.

Along with his appeal to the ICC, Brown also called for monitoring and reporting on abuses and violations of the rights of women and girls, the release of those imprisoned for defending their rights, and sanctions upon the Taliban by the U.S. and the UK.

The U.N. envoy further urged major Muslim nations to send a delegation to Kandahar, the home of Taliban supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, and make the case that denying women and girls jobs and schooling has “no basis in the Quran or the Islamic religion.”

Taliban chief spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid brushed off questions about legal restrictions on women and girls, stating that the status quo would remain. 

He added that the Taliban view their rule of Afghanistan as open-ended and based in Islamic law. 

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