The law outlawing any dealings with the Taliban, which the charities complain about, is hampering their ability to help Afghans in need, has been approved by the federal government to give aid agencies more flexibility. can be adjusted for.
International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said the government was considering changing the law to create “flexibility” to ease humanitarian aid.
But, in an interview with The Canadian Press, he insisted that Canada would not lift the Taliban’s designation as a designated terrorist organization.
“We are looking at options to see what we can do to build on the flexibility that other countries have,” he said. “America can do more than we currently do, at least there are other things to do. As long as we can keep the pressure on the Taliban, we are looking for similar exemptions, because it is a terrorist entity. Is.”
A law listing the Taliban as a terrorist organization was passed in 2013, before the allies withdrew and the Taliban took control of Kabul and formed a de facto government last year.
Under the anti-terrorism law, Canadians could face up to 10 years in prison if they directly or indirectly provided assets or finances to the Taliban.
Canadian aid agencies operating in Afghanistan complain that the law is hindering their work because they cannot help anyone who may have official dealings with the Afghan government, including rent or tax payers. people are also involved.
He has also criticized Canada for not adjusting its rules following a December 2021 UN Security Council resolution, which called for “humanitarian aid and other activities that support basic humanitarian needs in Afghanistan”. will not violate the ban rule of
Giving evidence to a special parliamentary committee on Afghanistan earlier this year, World Vision Canada president Michael Messenger said Canada was “out of step” with other countries, including the US, which have sought to ease humanitarian aid after the United Nations. Changes have been made for resolution.
Ten humanitarian organizations presented before a parliamentary committee and called on ministers to relax their laws so that they can operate on the ground in Afghanistan without fear of violating Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
In its official report last month, the committee recommended that the government “ensure that registered Canadian organizations have the clarity and assurance they need – such as carving out or waivers – to provide humanitarian assistance and without fear of prosecution for violations in Afghanistan.” To meet the basic needs of Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.”
Sajjan said, despite the ban on dealing with the Taliban, Canada continues to provide large amounts of aid to Afghanistan through agencies including the United Nations and the Red Cross.
But he acknowledged that legislation brought in before the Taliban formed the government was blocking some aid work, including “development projects where you have to work through the structure of the government.”
He said Canada has invested about $150 million in Afghanistan, including helping people in the aftermath of the recent earthquake, which killed more than 1,000 people and injured more than 1,500.
The earthquake struck a remote area near the Pakistan border, damaging more than 10,000 homes, most of them made of mud and clay. Soon after the quake, the Taliban appealed to the international community for help.
“The law has not stopped us from helping the Afghan people,” the minister for international development said. “We can still help the Afghan people but we are still looking at options on how to get the waiver.”
Lauryn Oates, executive director of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, said humanitarian groups were receiving conflicting legal advice about what the rules say they can and can’t do in Afghanistan.
She said counter-terrorism laws were preventing Canadian aid workers from paying local taxes, including rent or salaries. But aid workers in Afghanistan could face imprisonment for not paying taxes under local laws.
The law is making it difficult to fund scholarships for Afghan women and girls in private universities and to do a large amount of paperwork, she said. A scholarship can now be awarded only if the university signs an undertaking that the funds, even small sums of money, will not be used to pay taxes.
Oates said he fears it could take years to change the law when immediate aid is needed in a poor country.
“We need an innovative, interim solution now,” she said. “Other countries have been able to come along with them and Canada is lagging behind.”
– Mary Woolf, The Canadian Press