EU hits Taliban, Russian officers over women's rights abuses

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Tuesday imposed sanctions on nine people, including two senior Taliban government members, Russian military officers and police, as well as an Iranian prison facility, accusing them all of links to rights violations and the sexual abuse of women.

“We are enhancing efforts to counter sexual and gender-based violence, to ensure that those responsible are fully accountable for their actions, and to combat impunity,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. The announcement comes on the eve of International Women’s Day.

The EU move will see asset freezes and travel bans imposed on the nine, and an asset freeze slapped on Qarchak Prison — one of the Iranian regime’s detention facilities for women — as well as on Syria’s Republican Guard and a Myanmar army institution.

Among those targeted are two acting Taliban government ministers accused of issuing decrees that restrict the rights of women and girls. The Taliban have imposed harsh measures since taking power in August 2021. They have banned women from public life and education for girls beyond the sixth grade.

The EU also took aim at the head of Moscow Police Station, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Georgievich Fedorinov, and one of his men. The commander is accused of authorizing “the arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as the subsequent torture, of female anti-war protestors.”

Sanctions were also slapped on two Russian military commanders whose troops are accused of committing rape and sexual violence in Ukraine.

As months of protests continue in Iran over the September death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the country’s morality police — one of the most serious challenges to Iran’s theocracy since its 1979 Islamic Revolution — the EU singled out the Qarchak prison in Teheran province.

The 27-nation bloc said that women held there “are subject to torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence. They are held in overcrowded cells, without access to clean drinking water, food and medical assistance, amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”