Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Interview: After Fleeing the Taliban, a Women’s Rights Defender Mourns the Loss of Afghanistan, Urges Action to Save the Country’s Lawyers


Before the United States withdrew its forces from Afghanistan last August, Najla Raheel was a busy lawyer specializing in assisting victims of domestic violence. She dedicated her free time to serving on legislative committees to strengthen protections for women’s rights. She also served in the upper echelons of the country’s nascent independent bar association. But when Washington pulled out and the Taliban swept in, everything changed.

As the Taliban claimed Kabul, it freed thousands of prisoners — including many of the men Raheel had helped put behind bars for spousal abuse. Fearful of revenge, and stifled by the new regime’s rapid imposition of policies aimed curbing the rights of women, Raheel knew she had to leave. After weeks of hiding in Kabul, she faced a harrowing journey to escape the immediate threats that surrounded her, and after months of legal limbo, has arrived in Canada, where she hopes to start a new life.

JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman spoke with Raheel about her professional life before the Taliban’s rise, the obstacles she faced in fleeing her country and establishing a new home, and her hopes for the beleaguered attorneys of Afghanistan.


Do you have faith that the legal profession in Afghanistan will regain its independence?

The Taliban seized control of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association shortly after they took Kabul, so by now the organization has been fully merged into their Justice Ministry. Because of that, I can’t say I have any optimism at all, though I do hold out hope for an independent profession in the future. But for that hope to ever translate into action, we will need the support of other bar associations around the globe. Without strong external support, I’m afraid there’s little room for wishful thinking.

What would you ask of lawyers around the world with respect to supporting the work and safety of those attorneys who were forced to flee Afghanistan, as well as those who stayed but now live in persecution?

I call on the lawyers of the world not to forget their counterparts in and of Afghanistan. We desperately need your support. In particular, I would make the following requests:

First: Advocates inside Afghanistan are under threat and their lives are in imminent danger. Help them leave Afghanistan.

Second: Those attorneys that have made it out of Afghanistan are often left to fester in refugee camps for far too long, which poses a threat to anyone’s mental health. Help them get out of these refugee camps and into destination countries.

Finally: Those attorneys who have made it past all of these obstacles and have arrived in destination countries so often find themselves unemployed, and thus unable to provide for themselves and their families. And ultimately, these attorneys who have devoted their professional lives to defending the rights of others find themselves silenced. Help them find work. In fact, help them find work helping Afghan refugees in order to alleviate this whole dark cycle.




https://france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr/nouvelle-aquitaine/gironde/bordeaux/temoignage-une-avocate-fuit-le-regime-des-talibans-en-afghanistan-et-se-refugie-en-gironde-2540184.html (FRANCAIS)

UK ‘turns back on’ former Afghan prosecutor hunted by Taliban


The UK’s Afghan resettlement scheme is failing to support those looking to flee Afghanistan, a former senior prosecutor who lives in fear of his life in neighboring Pakistan has told The Independent.

The man, who is being hunted by the Taliban, has lived in Pakistan for almost 18 months after fleeing his homeland. But he is still being denied resettlement in the UK despite having family members in Britain.

He is “constantly terrified” that underground Taliban networks in the country will locate and kill him. The former director of prosecution for an Afghan province has already been targeted by a car bomb, which he escaped by switching vehicles before it detonated.

He told The Independent that family members back in Afghanistan have received threatening visits and letters.

The former prosecutor living in Pakistan said of the Taliban takeover: “Can you imagine all the prisoners that I had put in prison for their crimes escaping? All the jails were breaking down, and everyone was coming out by themselves. I was scared to death.

“Dealing with the Taliban is a nightmare for all the attorneys. It was unusual for the head of a province to speak to them directly, but I wanted to see if they had regrets for what they did, as many of them are young.

“But it was very difficult because some of them were the most dangerous people — who are proud of killing women and killing children — and they said they would never regret their crimes.







Statement of the New York City Bar Association re: the Taliban Takeover of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association


The New York City Bar Association[1] joins the international community in condemning in the strongest possible terms the Taliban’s recent takeover of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association and related ongoing developments.[2]

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (“AIBA”) was established in 2008 under Afghanistan’s Advocates Law as a statutory body to oversee the licensing and regulation of lawyers independent of the executive branch, to promote professional excellence and equal opportunity in the legal profession, and to champion the rule of law and social justice.[3] The AIBA’s by-laws are among the most progressive of any bar association in the world. For example, the AIBA is believed to be the only bar association worldwide to have self-imposed gender quotas for bar leadership, including a quota for women on all executive committees, as well as a requirement of at least one woman vice-president.[4] Similarly, the AIBA by-laws require all AIBA members to take on at least three pro bono cases a year.[5] From its inception, the AIBA has been independent, non-governmental, and non-political.[6]

In the wake of Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban in mid-August 2021, the AIBA had been viewed as the country’s sole remaining bulwark of fundamental human rights, due process, judicial independence, the rule of law, and democratic values.[7]

However, on November 22, 2021, the Taliban Ministry of Justice published a decree stripping the AIBA of its independence, including its authority to license lawyers, and merging it into the Ministry.[8] The same decree states that only Taliban-approved lawyers will be permitted to appear in the courts and declares that lawyers must be “honest and loyal to the Islamic Emirate” (the Taliban), must have not worked with the prior government (i.e., the internationally-recognized government), and must have taken part in the “jihad” of the past 20 years – criteria that, in effect, would appear to exclude all non-Taliban figures.[9]

On November 23, 2021, the day after the decree issued, an estimated 50 armed Taliban stormed the AIBA’s offices in Kabul, threatening the lawyers and staff with violence before ordering them off the premises[10] and installing a new president who has ties to the Taliban Ministry of Justice but no relevant experience.[11] Days later, on December 5, 2021, armed Taliban raided an AIBA news conference planned to protest the Taliban takeover and to highlight the importance of the AIBA’s independence, forcing AIBA members to flee for their lives.[12] The situation has continued to deteriorate since then.[13]

Particularly alarming is the fact that, as a result of its takeover of the AIBA, the Taliban now have access to the AIBA’s database of the personal and professional records of more than 2500 lawyers and judicial system employees.[14] These records include detailed, highly-sensitive information on matters such as individuals’ home addresses, family members, and client files – leaving lawyers, prosecutors, and judges (particularly women) even more exposed to the very real possibility of reprisals at the hands of convicted prisoners who were freed by the Taliban and at the hands of the Taliban itself.[15] The Taliban have similarly seized control of the AIBA’s bank accounts and funds.[16]

More recently, the Taliban Ministry of Justice has announced that Afghan lawyers will be required to re-certify under a new qualification process established by the Ministry.[17] Male lawyers who have applied to renew their licenses under the new process report that they have been required to take an oral examination in which the questions are drawn from religious subjects and have nothing to do with the law.[18] To date, the Taliban have failed to issue even a single law license to any woman lawyer.[19]  Although, like their male colleagues, women lawyers have applied to renew their licenses, their requests are not being processed and they have been told to wait until a decision is made as to whether they will be permitted to continue to practice.[20]




https://www.helloasso.com/associations/fonds-de-dotation-du-conseil-national-des-barreaux/formulaires/2 (FRANCAIS)





It’s been almost six months since the United States packed up and pulled out of Afghanistan, ending the longest war in American history and sending thousands of Afghans into hiding. The Taliban, rebranded as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, initially promised amnesty and understanding to those who had opposed the terror group for more than 20 years.

But as many had feared, the Taliban lied.

A United Nations report released this week and seen by several news organizations claims approximately 100 former Afghan military members and government officials have been killed since the Taliban took over, at least two-thirds of them directly by the Taliban or their affiliates. That figure seemed improbable to one woman reached by Coffee or Die Magazine who is currently hiding in Afghanistan from Taliban retaliation. And it rang “unrealistically low” to a Marine Corps veteran in Mississippi who spends his free hours desperately trying to coordinate the rescue of people still in the country.

In a tweet, an account linked to the Taliban Ministry of Interior Affairs said the government “has not killed anyone since the amnesty.”

Aysha, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is a 26-year-old human rights activist in Afghanistan who has spent the last five months hiding in fear for her life. She moves from one safe house to the next every few weeks, a shell-game tactic used to avoid the Taliban’s door-to-door searches.

“They are killing soldiers, activists and lawyers in the cities, villages and surrounding areas by [calling them] thieves, or removing them from their homes to unknown places,” Aysha told Coffee or Die. “No trace of them is left.” 


“The Taliban are actively persecuting those who either worked against the Taliban movement with the government or those who spoke out against the Taliban movement while they were conducting their insurgency,” Espinal said. “Two weeks ago we had an incident where one of the judges left the compound and the Taliban controlling that district recognized [him]. And [he] and his wife were beat in front of the family pretty much and they were taken away to an unknown prison. Luckily for them, they were one of the few that were released.”









https://www.sudouest.fr/justice/bordeaux-une-avocate-afghane-accueillie-le-coeur-ouvert-par-ses-confreres-8135235.php (FRANCAIS)


Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’


Interview: Attorney Saeeq Shajjan Entreats ‘We Need to Raise Our Voices for Afghanistan’s Embattled Lawyers’

“Lawyers have the courage to speak up. Lawyers are educated. Lawyers are the people that can object to whatever dark policies [the Taliban] would like to implement. [A violent crackdown] is going to start very soon. It’s going to be really, really terrible, even compared to what we have seen so far,” warns Saeeq Shajjan, a corporate attorney from Kabul.

And he would know; Shajjan’s legal career has spanned the entirety of the 20-year-war and was bookended by the fall and subsequent rise of the Taliban.

Having fled to Toronto amid the chaos of the international military withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer, the self-described lawyer in exile has been working tirelessly to help several dozen of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and in many cases, in the Taliban’s crosshairs.

Shajjan earned his law degree from Kabul University in 2003—his education having spanned the end of the old Taliban regime and the start of the war. He then went on to earn LL.M. degrees from Harvard Law School (US) and Savitribail Phule Pune University (India). In 2011, he established his own practice, Shajjan & Associates, a Kabul-based corporate law firm that has received numerous international awards, including several designations as a Band 1 firm by Chambers and Partners. Among the firm’s high-profile international clientele was the Canadian Government, which the firm had represented on a variety of matters for nine years leading up to the Taliban’s resurgence.

JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman interviewed Shajjan about the evolution and devolution of Afghanistan’s legal profession, the plight of his colleagues who remain trapped in Afghanistan, and his hopes that the international community will learn from its mistakes.





https://www.asfcanada.ca/medias/nouvelles/avocat-e-de-droits-humains-une-profession-encore-trop-dangereuse/ (FRANCAIS)


Interview: Canadian Law Firm Partners Help Afghan Lawyers Flee Taliban


Interview: Canadian Law Firm Partners Help Afghan Lawyers Flee Taliban

Months have passed since the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan amid the chaotic final chapter of the United States’ 20-year war in the country. Yet many thousands of the Afghan citizens who provided critical assistance to Washington and other foreign governments and international organizations over the past two decades now find themselves targeted for this very work, and unable to evacuate. Visa-processing bottlenecks continue to swell as reports of Taliban rights abuses and food shortages proliferate. As many Western governments continue to puzzle over ways to assist, a growing number of private- and public-sector volunteers have risen up in hopes of providing the assistance these Afghan citizens so urgently need.

The Toronto-based firm Cassels, one of Canada’s largest corporate law firms, is taking action by advocating for a group of beleaguered lawyers and legal professionals in Afghanistan—employees of the Kabul-based corporate firm Shajjan & Associates, which had until this month counted the Canadian Government among its clients. The Canadian Government vowed to offer sanctuary to 40,000 Afghan refugees, but progress has been glacial. Cassels and other Canadian firms are endeavoring to offer meaningful assistance where the Government is falling short. To learn more about these efforts, JURIST Features Editor Ingrid Burke Friedman spoke with Kristin Taylor, Managing Partner at Cassels, and Carla Potter, partner and co-chair of the firm’s Corporate Responsibility Committee. 

JURIST: How did Cassels get involved in efforts to help Afghanistan’s lawyers after the Taliban regained power? 

Taylor: This issue struck a chord with me personally because, like a lot of Canadians, I sponsored a family of refugees from Syria to come here five years ago and they have become a part of my family. 

Kristin Taylor // Cassels

A couple of months ago, I was listening one morning to a news program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and the guest was Saeeq Shajjan, a corporate lawyer from Afghanistan. He had recently fled Afghanistan and was discussing his plight. He described having gone through hell to get to Canada, and said he was still very worried for his colleagues. 

Given that I had some experience with refugees who have successfully settled in Canada, and the fact that Saeeq is a peer of mine, I thought perhaps I could offer some help. I found him on Twitter and sent him a direct message, making sure to explain who I was and send him a link to the Cassels website so he wouldn’t think I was just some random person. He reached out to me within a couple of hours, and we spoke that afternoon. 

Initially, I had intended to offer him advice about settling in Canada—advice on getting accredited to practice law here, getting his kids into school, the sort of things I knew how to do. But it quickly became clear that he wasn’t looking for help himself; he was solely focused on finding help for the people of his firm that he had left behind in Kabul. 







Afghanistan: Several prosecutors violently arrested in Badakhshan


۸صبح، بدخشان: بدخشان کې ځايي سرچینو دغه ولایت کې د یو شمېر مسلکي څارنوالانو د نیولو خبر ورکړی دی.

په یوه مکتبوب کې چې د بدخشان استیناف څارنوالی د لویې څارنوالۍ مقام ته لېږلی راغلي، چې د دغه ریاست څو مسلکي څارنوالان نیول شوي دي.

د مکتوب یوه برخه کې راغلي، چې د روانې میاشتې په ۲۲ نېټه د بدخشان د جنايي جرمونو پر وړاندې د مبارزې مدیر او له نشه يي توکو سره د مبارزې مدیر له وسله‌والو کسانو سره دغه ریاست ته ننوتي او د نوموړي ریاست څو مسلکي څارنوالان یې په تاوتریخجن ډول له ځان سره بېولي دي.

دغه راز یاد مکتبوب کې ویل شوي، چې د بدخشان د یمګان ولسوال د دغه ولایت د استیناف څارنوالۍ رییس ته سپکې سپورې ویلي او په مرګ یې ګواښلی دی.

مکتوب کې راغلي، د قضیې د هواري او د لویې څارنوالۍ مقام تر هدایت پورې به د بدخشان د استیناف څارنوالۍ ریاست تړل شوی وي.


https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghan-disabled-woman-prosecutor-jobless-taliban/31651273.html (ENGLISH)




Afghanistan: Law Professor Faizullah Jalal Arrested by Taliban


Sources in Kabul report the arrest of Faizullah Jalal, the Kabul University professor, and political expert.

He was arrested by the Taliban forces from his home in the Macroyan area, sources told Hasht-e Subh.  

So far, the cause of the arrest is unknown, according to sources.

Earlier, Faizullah Jalal, a law professor at Kabul University, had sharply criticized the Taliban during a live TOLOnews discussion in Kabul on November 21, with Mohammad Naeem Wardak, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar which part of Jalal’s speech had made headlines among social media users, who were worried about his life.

At that time, Faizullah Jalal sharply criticized the Taliban for their actions and called on them to reform themselves.






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Taliban proceed with plans to strip independence of Afghanistan lawyers



Afghanistan’s Justice Ministry reiterated Monday that the country’s independent lawyers will need to re-certify under a new qualification process ser by the Ministry, signaling the intent of the Taliban authorities to plough ahead with plans to strip the country’s legal profession of its independence.

According to the statement, the country’s lawyers will be authorized to continue practicing with their previous licenses until the new certification process has been finalized.

This was the latest step in a series of efforts by the new regime to crack down on the activities of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA), an organization established in 2008 to oversee the licensing of new lawyers, and to champion the rule of law and social justice.

On November 14, the Taliban Cabinet decreed that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) would gain jurisdiction over AIBA affairs. On November 23, the AIBA offices in Kabul were taken over by armed Taliban who threatened the staff and lawyers who were present with violence before ordering them to leave and installing a new president with questionable professional qualifications. “The person appointed as the new AIBA head is said to be part of the Ministry of Justice but has no relevant experience,” according to a Kabul-based JURIST correspondent. These armed forces had apparently interpreted the Cabinet decree to indicate that the MOJ should have sole authority over licensing, as well as control of the AIBA’s extensive member database and bank account.

A group of AIBA members hoping to raise awareness of the importance of the profession’s independence organized a press conference for December 5, but their plans were halted when, as they prepared to go live, their plans were thwarted by two carloads of armed Taliban. Many have remained in hiding ever since.







May be an image of ‎1 person and ‎text that says "‎e l'établissement dans défense de l'avocat de nce équitable procès d'un lors justice la e افغانستان اینترنشنال کنفرانس عدالت و واجرای اهمیت وكالت دفاع در په تامينولو او عادلانه كولو کی ادامه تلاش_های طالبان برای سلب استقلال وکلای مدافع فغانس افغانستان or‎"‎‎

Canada to resettle female Afghan judges, families living in limbo


Canada will take in female Afghan judges and their families who have been living in limbo, primarily in Greece, since their evacuation from Afghanistan in the fall, a spokesperson for the immigration minister said Friday.

In addition to the judges and their families, a group totalling about 230 people, Canada will also resettle an unspecified number of Afghans from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities who had been referred by a third-party aid organization, the spokesperson said.

They are expected to come to Canada next year but there is no firm date.

Canada has promised to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees but has no timeline for doing so. Since the Taliban took control of the country after the U.S. troop withdrawal in August, Canada has resettled 3,915 Afghans with connections to the Canadian government and another 2,535 on humanitarian grounds, according to government figures.

Afghan women made great strides in the two decades since the Taliban last ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, joining previously all-male bastions such as the judiciary, the media and politics.

“All the achievements of 20 years came back to zero within the blink of an eye,” said Freshta Masoni, a family court judge staying in Athens with her toddler daughters.








https://www.facebook.com/events/4752463944866078/ (FRANCAIS)

May be an image of ‎1 person, headscarf, outdoors and ‎text that says "‎-” جنيش زنان مقتذر افغانستان POWERFUL AFGHANISTAN MOVEMENT WOMEN زنان افغان به عقب بر نمی گردند افغان بخی شاته نه ستنبرِي BACK. GO NOT WILL WOMEN AFGHAN‎"‎‎