Monthly Archives: August 2021

Afghanistan’s female judges desperate to flee death threats and retaliation


Afghans, hoping to leave Afghanistan, walk through the main entrance gate of Kabul airport in Kabul on August 28, 2021, following the Taliban stunning military takeover of Afghanistan.

“It was the most horrible experience I could ever have in my life. I experienced things I would never imagine seeing in my life.” — Afghan judge on trying to flee Kabul

Afghanistan’s female judges did what is anathema to the Taliban: They dared sit in judgment of men, holding them accountable for their actions and often sentencing them to long prison terms.

Death threats were frequent and, in January, despite the American troops’ presence, two women on the Supreme Court were assassinated.

Now, these fearless judges are being hunted by the Taliban and their fates have fallen mainly to international colleagues to sort out.

“It was the most horrible experience I could ever have in my life,” said one judge in describing her a harrowing escape from Kabul only a few days ago. “I experienced things I would never imagine seeing in my life.”

Of the 270 female justices, she was one of the lucky 20 who the International Association of Women Judges has rescued since the Taliban took control of the country, opened the jails, closed the courts and warned women to stay at home.

“We had some food and water but we ended up wandering from this gate to another for three days and two nights without food,” the judge said.

“Through this mayhem, we had to deal with gunfire all the time and the tear gas. That (tear gas) was the hardest thing for everyone. We couldn’t breath, we couldn’t see anything then with all of this (we) go this gate, other and another still not knowing if could go through or not or whether we could make it. We just kept going through the gates.”

The judge spoke Monday through a translator on the condition that no name be used, not her own or a pseudonym. She’s in hiding in an undisclosed country, waiting to find out where she and her family might be resettled.


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Tunisia: Lawyer Chawki Tabib placed under house arrest


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Mr Chawki Tabib, member of the Tunis Bar and former President of the Tunisian Bar Association, is an eminent lawyer, founder and President of the Tunisian League for Citizenship. He is a member of the Tunisian League of Human Rights and the Tunisian Association of Young Lawyers.

He is also the founding President of the Arab Organization of Young Lawyers, a member of the National Council of the National Bar Association of Tunisia since June 2004 and was appointed in 2016 as President of the Instance Nationale de la Lutte contre la corruption (INLUCC, an authority against corruption). He held this position until his ouster and placement under house arrest on 20 August 2021.

This decision follows the transmission to the Public Prosecutor’s Office by the INLUCC of a file concerning irregularities in the declaration of the head of government’s assets.

The continuation of Mr. Chawki TABIB under house arrest by virtue of a decree governing the state of emergency, without the slightest debate and without the intervention of the judicial judge, constitutes a serious infringement of his fundamental rights and prevents him, in fact, from exercising his profession as a lawyer.

The OIAD firmly condemns this measure.

The OIAD calls on the Tunisian authorities to guarantee the independent exercise of his profession to Mr. Chawki TABIB, in accordance with the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990) which state:



Tunisie : L’ancien président de l’Inlucc Chawki Tabib, placé en résidence surveillée,520,111617,3

Egypt: Officer detained for assaulting lawyer at Alexandria police station


A police officer in Alexandria is being held in remand detention on charges of physically assaulting a lawyer at an Alexandria police station on Wednesday last week.

The lawyer, Islam Mohamed Ibrahim al-Danoush, suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding in his brain and was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Mostafa Kamel Armed Forces Hospital, according to a medical report that lawyers obtained from the hospital on Thursday.

His condition is currently stable though he is still receiving treatment, according to Alexandria lawyer Ashraf Abdel Mouti. In a Friday statement, the Public Prosecution said it is waiting for the lawyer’s condition to stabilize so he can be examined by the Forensic Medical Authority as part of the investigation.

The assault took place when Danoush accompanied his sister, Nagwa, to the First Montazah Police Station on Wednesday in relation to a dispute about a property that Nagwa was renting. Nagwa told Mada Masr that she held a contract for a rent-controlled property that she was not living in and had discovered that the locks were changed. After forcing her way into the property, Nagwa  found that the owners had removed all her possessions. 

Nagwa said that she and her brother, Danoush, were filing a complaint at the station about the property at the same time as the property owner was filing a report with their side of the dispute. The officer on duty, who heard both the reports, gave orders for Danoush’s sister to be taken into custody, according to both Nagwa and Mohamed Pasha, the head of the Alexandria branch of the Lawyers Syndicate.


The Philippines: Supreme Court vows to address murder of lawyers


Gunshots from a treacherous assassin felled long-time human rights lawyer Rex Jesus Mario A. Fernandez and seriously wounded his driver in Cebu City on 26 August 2021.

The masked gunman stealthily approached and shot Fernandez with a .45 caliber pistol as Fernandez’s vehicle slowed down at a busy junction along Salvador Street, Sitio Banawa, Barangay Guadalupe, at around 4:10 pm. After the shooting, the killer fled on board a motorcycle driven by a co-conspirator.

Fernandez, 64, died on the spot from multiple gunshot wounds.

His ambush slay, which was caught on video, came in the heels of a growing number of killings of lawyers and human rights defenders.

Per the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ count, Fernandez’s murder is the 64th recorded killing of lawyers that happened under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

Supreme Court

The unabated killing of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers has prompted the Supreme Court to act.

In a statement dated 27 August 2021, the highest court condoled with Fernandez’s family and friends.

Expressing concern over Fernandez’s ambush-slay, the court remarked: “The killing of any lawyer is of serious concern to all of us.”

“Violence,” stressed Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, “solves nothing.”

“It is anathema to the rule of law.”

The court, Leonen said, continues “to sift through and analyze the voluminous records and reports submitted to us upon our call to discern whether there are patterns in the killing of lawyers and threats to judges so that we can evaluate a strategic response”.

The court “will welcome new reports to be submitted by the police and by other organizations” involving Fernandez’s death, Leonen added, as he urged “law enforcement authorities, and human rights and other groups” to submit their own “findings by the end of September at the latest.”

The highest judicial body’s Committee on Human Rights that he chairs, Leonen vowed, “will be submitting our report and recommendations for the action of the Court En Banc.


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Afghanistan: Tajik lawyer threatened, shot in the foot


Internally displaced people in a camp in Kabul after they fled fighting in other parts of Afghanistan. Many ethnic minorities are fearful of what the Taliban rule will mean for them. Photo: Sonia Sarkar
  • Many young Tajik and Hazara Afghans want to leave the country, after the minorities were targeted by the Taliban in the past
  • A Tajik lawyer said he received a written threat, and was attacked by criminals released from jails after the Taliban took over

Kabul-based freelance photojournalist SH, who asked to only use her initials, is one of 10 million ethnic minority Tajiks living in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban takeover of the country, she said she has been threatened with dire consequences if she steps out of her home. She believes this is both because of her ethnic origin and for being a woman. As a result, she and her family have applied for asylum in both the US and Canada, hoping the video editing training she received from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) two years ago will be her ticket to escape Taliban rule.

“I received threats from the Taliban because I take photographs of women who are victims of war in Afghanistan,” said the 26-year-old single mother, who is the sole breadwinner for her family of seven, which includes her parents and three sisters.


Lawyer Jan Mohammad Nazari, 30, a Tajik living in Baghlan province, fought legal cases on behalf of the erstwhile Afghan government against criminals allegedly supported by the Taliban. Last week, he was attacked by five men who were recently released from jails after the Taliban took over, he said. Nazari is now recovering from a bullet injury after he was shot in his right foot.

In June, he received a written threat from the Taliban, sent by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Military Commission High Council, which said he will “lose” his life if he does not stop working with the former government’s national directorate of security or national army. A copy of the threat was seen by This Week In Asia.

Nazari is seeking asylum in the US and Canada. In his application to the US, he wrote: “I have my wife, a seven-month-old infant and a five-year-old son and all our lives are in danger … Please save our lives.”

But like Ahmad, he does not have a passport – although his wife does, and he is hoping this will help them. He is also battling to find out which countries are offering asylum.

“There is no information on which country will take us, but it’s true that we cannot live here any more,” Nazari said, adding that travelling to Kabul is also difficult.


The Philippines: Human rights group renews call to end lawyers’ killing


A human rights group has renewed its call to end the killings and continued attacks against lawyers in the country.

“We join lawyers and fellow human rights defenders in calling to stop the attacks against lawyers in the country. Perpetrators of the killings, from the one who pulled the trigger to the masterminds, should be made accountable and be brought to justice,” Karapatan said in a statement.

It also said: “The rampant killings must end, together with a regime that has encouraged and enabled the culture of impunity in our country.” it stressed.

Karapatan’s statement was issued in reaction to the Aug. 26 killing of lawyer Rex Jose Mario Fernandez in Cebu City. Fernandez was Karapatan’s former legal counsel.

Karapatan said that Fernandez “handled cases of rights violations, and represented victims and their families in court for years and defended political prisoners charged with trumped-up cases.”

“A few years after the Writ of Amparo — a legal remedy to seek protection amidst threats to life, liberty and security — was made available by the Supreme Court in 2007, Atty. Fernandez served as legal counsel in petitions for Amparo on a number of cases of abductions and enforced disappearances,” it said.

“Among these were the petition for the Writs of Amparo for Romulo Robinos, Ryan Supan, and disappeared UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan,” it cited.

It also said that Fernandez “also lawyered for peasant activist Noriel Rodriguez and Filipino-American activist Melissa Roxas, both abducted, detained and tortured in Cagayan and Tarlac, consecutively, both in the y0ear 2009.”

“In 2010, he went back to Cebu to continue his law practice there, after his stint with Karapatan,” it recalled.

At the same time, Karapatan said that Fernandez “provided legal services to the eight protesters in Cebu who were arrested while protesting the Anti-Terror Law in June 2020, among other cases.”

Reports stated that Fernandez was onboard his car on R. Duterte Street when he was shot by a still unidentified gunman who later fled aboard a motorcycle. His driver was injured and was taken to a hospital. The same reports stated that a woman at the backseat of the car was unhurt.



According to research by the International Association of People’s Lawyers there have been 67 lawyers killed under Duterte, at the rate of 1.1 per month. this is he highest rate of any Presidential regime going back to World War II. From Marcos to Pinoy there were 158 killed. Thus the problem is not unique to the Duterte regime. See:


Afghanistan/France: « Il faut nous sauver de cette terreur », supplient avocats et magistrats menacés par les talibans


Afghanistan : "Il faut nous sauver de cette terreur", supplient avocats et magistrats menacés par les talibans

La France aurait exfiltré 1800 personnes d’Afghanistan depuis l’entrée des talibans à Kaboul. Mais beaucoup de défenseurs des droits de l’homme, avocats, magistrats, journalistes, membres d’ONG ne peuvent pas se rendre à l’aéroport ou bien s’il y arrivent, sont refoulés. Les avocats français remuent ciel et terre pour leur porter secours.

« Save my life ! ». Des mails avec cet intitulé, la cellule mise en place par la profession d’avocat pour aider les défenseurs des droits en dangers en Afghanistan en reçoit actuellement 200 par jour. Ils proviennent d’avocats, de magistrats, de  journalistes, de membres d’ONG…. « Plusieurs initiatives ont été initiées lorsque la situation est devenue critique, par exemple le barreau de Marseille a lancé une action intitulée Care pour aider les avocats, le Syndicat de la magistrature, l’Union syndicale des magistrats et le syndicat FO-Magistrats sont également mobilisés. Le Conseil national des Barreaux (CNB) et le barreau de Paris ont proposé, avec l’accord de la Conférence des bâtonniers,  de centraliser toutes les demandes d’aide dans notre Observatoire international des avocats en danger qui a l’avantage d’être une structure déjà rodée au traitement de ce type de situation » explique Laurence Roques, présidente de la Commission Libertés Droits de l’homme du CNB et ancienne présidente du SAF.

Terrés pour échapper aux talibans

Il se trouve que CNB a conclu en 2015 une convention avec le barreau Afghan ; le réseau développé sur place lui permet aujourd’hui de suivre la situation au plus près et de proposer de l’aide. Les avocats peuvent également compter sur le cabinet du Ministre de la justice ainsi que sur plusieurs contacts au sein du Ministère des affaires étrangères. «On nous a expliqué que pour permettre l’exfiltration des afghans en danger, il faut communiquer une liste de noms, avec le numéro de passeport et une explication d’une ligne sur le risque de persécution encouru » confie Laurence Roques. Au départ, la cellule de crise recevait très peu de mails, et puis le chiffre est monté d’un coup pour atteindre 200 par jour. Alors, on inscrit les auteurs des appels au secours sur des listes qui sont transmises aux services de l’Ambassade de France sur place, ainsi qu’au Ministère de la justice, également mobilisé et au Ministère des affaires étrangères. Cela permet d’identifier, dans le chaos général, les gens ultra-prioritaires qui sont nommément menacés.  « Le problème c’est que les défenseurs des droits de l’homme, notamment les avocats et les magistrats, ont déjà fui leur domicile  pour échapper aux talibans qui les traquent, ils se terrent et ne peuvent pas prendre le risque d’aller à l’aéroport car les talibans contrôlent les accès » analyse Laurence Roques.


May be a Twitter screenshot of text that says "Etienne Rosenthal @LawArchipelago Heureux de promouvoir avec @AvocatsCare et notre Comité une coordination entre les barreaux de @marseilleavocat et @Avocatslyon pour la constitution d'une commission transversale d'avocats au profit des #avocats et #magistrats d'#Afghanishtan 16:42 27/08/2021 Twitter for Android"
May be an image of text that says "AFGHANISTAN THOUSANDS WERE AT THE AIRPORT LAST NIGHT IN PURSUIT OF SAFETY AND PROTECTION FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES. THOUSANDS STILL REMAIN. The horrific blasts killing scores of people, including children, is another reminder that the nightmare continues for ordinary Afghans. The attacks reinforce the need for the world to stand united for Afghanistan and protect its people."

Hong Kong Law Society election underscores tensions over China, legal system


Selma Masood, a candidate for the Hong Kong Law Society's election to select new council members, hands out pamphlets outside the city's district court ahead of the election in Hong Kong, China August 12, 2021. REUTERS/James Pomfret

Hong Kong’s Law Society votes for new governing council members on Tuesday, an annual event made fraught this year by the city’s national security law, with pro-Beijing media accusing some candidates of political bias.

The 12,000 member professional and regulatory body for the Hong Kong legal sector has a watchdog role over legal changes, and a say in the appointments of judges and lawyers who sit on various government advisory bodies. The election on Tuesday is for five of its governing council’s 20 seats.

Some of the city’s leading lawyers, both locals and expatriates, streamed into a large hall in a waterfront convention centre to cast their ballots.

One, who declined to be named, said she was concerned about the highly charged atmosphere of these elections but that it was important to “vote according to my conscience” for candidates who would stand up for the rule of law.

The election has spawned lurid but non-specific accusations against some candidates in pro-Beijing newspapers. One, Ta Kung Pao, describes a “liberal” faction that will carry out “ulterior political goals” if it wins a majority of seats.

Another such newspaper, Wen Wei Po, called four of the candidates “independence advocates” – a claim punishable under the national security law.

Other major professional bodies have come under pressure recently too, including Hong Kong’s largest teachers union, which disbanded this month after being attacked in pro-Beijing media as a “poisonous tumour”.

Critics, including rights groups and the U.S. government, say the legal system in the global financial hub is straining as Beijing tightens control. The sweeping national security law introduced a year ago outlaws foreign collusion, terrorism, secession and subversion with possible life imprisonment.


Judges, lawyers, human rights defenders seen as under threat in Afghanistan


Judges, lawyers, human rights defenders seen as under threat in Afghanistan

Legal organizations around the world, including bar associations, condemn Taliban takeover

Legal organizations around the world, including bar and judicial associations, are condemning the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the reports of human rights violations that have already taken place there.

The Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association (CSCJA), which represents nearly all of the federally appointed judges in Canada, was one of many associations releasing statements in the past week expressing concern and support for the people of Afghanistan.

“We note with particular concern the media reports about the safety and security of Afghan judges, particularly female judges,” the CSCJA said in its statement. For the past 20 years, it noted, Afghan judges’ focus as an independent judiciary was to render judgments based on the law, respect for human rights, and free of political influence or favour.

“While all judges are now in danger, female judges are particularly at risk because the Taliban has traditionally considered it unacceptable for Afghan women to sit in judgment of men,” the statement read. “Additionally, Afghan women in general now appear more vulnerable because of their apparent inability to move freely within or between cities.”


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Iran: Detained Rights Lawyers’ Homes Raided Without Warrant


Agents Confiscate Personal Security Cameras to Hide Evidence of Unlawful Raid

State security agents carried out search operations in the homes of two detained human rights lawyersArash Keykhosravi and Mohammad Reza Faghihi, in Tehran eleven days after the lawyers were unlawfully arrested along with colleagues and activists.

Keykhosravi and Faghihi along with Mehdi Mahmoudian (civil activist), Mostafa Nili (lawyer), Leila Heydari (lawyer), and Maryam Afrafaraz (civil activist) were arrested in Tehran on August 14, 2021, and their phones and other personal belongings were confiscated without a warrant. Heydari was released the following day.

Prior to being arrested, they were planning to file a lawsuit against Iranian authorities in accordance with Article 34 of the Constitution, accusing the government of “negligence in carrying out their duties and causing the deaths of thousands of Iranians” by failing to properly manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attorney Saeed Khalili tweeted on August 25, 2021: “This morning I went to the Evin [Prison] magistrate to declare my representation of my dear colleague Mr. Faghihi upon his family’s request and at the front gate I was told that no lawyers would be accepted and no one would be released on bail. On my way back I was informed that agents had raided his home and were carrying out a search.”

On the same day, human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan tweeted: “Security agents raided the paternal home of Arash Keykhosravi today. They (went inside) his room, closed the door and didn’t allow his relatives inside for several minutes. It was a setup to ‘gain reason’ (for the raid) by planting evidence! They first detain you and then search for a reason! They also took away the closed-circuit cameras so that there would be no evidence of the raid.”

The agents’ confiscations of the detainees’ personal electronic devices, and the raids against their homes, indicate that the authorities were trying to collect or plant evidence to build a case against t.