Friday, March 10, 2023
OTTAWA: Canada moved to amend its anti-terrorism laws in order to allow deliveries in Afghanistan of humanitarian aid and do other work that has been blocked since the Taliban took over.
Ottawa listed the Taliban as a terrorist group in 2013, making it a criminal offence for Canadians to have dealings with the fundamentalists.
After the Taliban retook the country in August 2021, aid groups were warned they risked running afoul of Canadian laws if they continued to provide aid to Afghans.
Even taxes collected by the Taliban on purchased goods or on salaries of locals hired by foreign NGOs, for example, would amount to illegally contributing to a terror group.
As a result, their efforts to help Afghans were effectively paralysed.
A draft of the bill says aid workers can get an exemption to help people in crisis "in a geographic area that is controlled by a terrorist group" without fear of prosecution in Canada.
The proposed tweaks would allow delivery of humanitarian assistance, health and education services, resettlement, and programmes "to assist individuals in earning a livelihood" and to promote or protect human rights.
The bill must still be passed by parliament.