Tag Archives: Canada

USA/Afghanistan: After fleeing Kabul, Afghan lawyers seek new life — and legal careers — in California


Masooda Qazi held her 8-year-old son’s hand tightly as she frantically tried to convey to a group of Dutch soldiers that she was an employee of the U.S. Embassy and was promised transport out of Kabul as it fell to the Taliban last year.

The crowd around Qazi was full of people similarly desperate to escape, and it was growing agitated. People pushed forward outside a security gate near the airport, erasing any space to move. Her son Habib began to panic.

“I can’t breathe anymore,” he said to his father, Hamid ul Rahman Qazi, who had been holding the couple’s younger son — Hasib, 4 — above the crowd on his shoulders for hours.

“We need to go back,” Hamid told his wife.

“No. Stay,” she said. “We will get success.”

More than a year later, the young family has resettled in the U.S. after escaping Afghanistan on a Dutch military plane, then waiting in a Dutch refugee camp for 10 months before finally receiving special U.S. immigrant visas.

They arrived in San Diego in June, Masooda had a baby girl in July, and they moved into their own apartment in August with the help of a refugee assistance program.

After so much turmoil and trauma, the young couple — who were successful lawyers in Afghanistan — said they finally feel safe.

But their quest for success isn’t over.

With help from others in the legal field in California — including judges, lawyers, law clerks and law professors — they hope to find their way back into their profession, which not only brought them together in Kabul but also provided them work they loved and a happy life before it all collapsed.

In that way, they are not alone.

More than 85,000 Afghan nationals have journeyed to the U.S. since the fall of Kabul, many through similar airport evacuations that same harrowing week in August 2021 — an effort the Biden administration dubbed Operation Allies Welcome. Many fled not only their country, homes, friends and loved ones, but also their established careers.

Those who have arrived on special immigrant visas such as the Qazis were largely admitted on the basis that they or one of their immediate family members “took significant risks to support [U.S.] military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Many had held coveted positions in government agencies and international nonprofits. And some, like the Qazis, were deeply involved in building the former Afghan government’s legal and judicial systems. They fought to ensure the rule of law in court, worked as or helped train prosecutors and judges, and drafted legislation to root out corruption and better protect the rights of women.

Now in the U.S., those same professionals desperately need and want jobs, with some resettlement programs providing housing for only a few months. But the hurdles to reentering their old fields are substantial. Beyond the challenges of working in a new language, those in professions that require advanced degrees or other qualifications — such as lawyers — face even greater barriers.

Masooda and Hamid said they understand all that, but they are not deterred. After all, they had fought their way to the top of their field once before in Kabul, they told The Times in a recent interview, where barriers — especially for a woman — were also imposing.

“Always Masooda is saying, ‘We can do it again,’” Hamid said. “And I’m sure we can.”






https://www.sudouest.fr/gironde/gironde-l-avocate-afghane-freshta-karimi-laureate-du-prix-des-droits-de-l-homme-ludovic-trarieux-12366732.php (FRANCAIS)

Ukraine/Canada: From Kyiv to Ottawa: Olha Chernovol finds a new academic home


At the beginning of 2022, Olha Chernovol was a practicing lawyer in Ukraine, working at both COSA LLC as a Project Coordinator, and at an NGO – Transparent Democracy – as an Executive Director. Her time was spent dealing with a variety of projects related to anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 changed her life and career plans.

While the invasion has upended the lives of countless individuals, Dr. Chernovol’s example is one of perseverance and resilience. She decided, in short order, to leave her motherland in March. Despite the tumultuous nature of her exit, she quickly made plans to continue pursuing her life’s work by taking up a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa, under the sponsorship of a leading expert in the fields of organizational criminal liability, and corporate accountability, Dr. Jennifer Quaid. The nature of Dr. Quaid’s work on anti-corruption and economic crime made this a perfect fit for Dr. Chernovol, whose experience with Transparent Democracy brings a valuable real-world perspective to Dr. Quaid’s research.

While the two researchers’ decision to work together was made easily, plans to bring Dr. Chernovol to Canada from Germany, where she was a refugee with little in the way of possessions or official documentation, would take a little longer. Fortunately, the pair was able to meet in person in Europe in the interim. Dr. Quaid, who was attending a workshop in Greece in late May organized for members of the Daughters of Themis: International Network of Female Business Scholarsnorth_eastexternal link, invited Dr. Chernovol to join her. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Chernovol was able to leave for Canada. After all the hurdles and emotional upheavals of 3 months alone in Europe, Dr. Chernovol has now found a new academic home for 2022 and 2023 at uOttawa’s dynamic Faculty of Law.




https://www.midilibre.fr/2022/08/24/nadia-avocate-ukrainienne-refugiee-a-sete-chaque-matin-je-regarde-si-ma-maison-a-ete-bombardee-10501933.php (FRANCAIS)


Couple from Afghanistan who were prosecutors pre-Taliban, arrive in Canada to start new life


Rohi Rasa and her husband Mojeeb Bari arrived in Saskatoon on Tuesday, greeted by volunteers with Nest Saskatoon, which is sponsoring the couple.

Rohi Rasa says she and her husband Mojeeb Bari feel they have found a family after they received a warm greeting from volunteers with a local organization that helps resettle refugees when they arrived at the airport in Saskatoon.

“We found (a) very good place and (a) very good city and very kind people and everything I like,” she said on Wednesday afternoon.

Volunteers with Nest Saskatoon have been working to raise funds to sponsor the couple, who were forced to flee their home in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in August 2021. The organization is also helping them settle into their new life in Saskatoon.

Bari said when they were in Afghanistan and then Pakistan, they couldn’t feel secure.

“But when we came to Canada, especially Saskatoon, we feel very secure,” he said.

Rasa and Bari were both prosecutors in Afghanistan’s attorney general’s office.

Rasa was particularly at risk because she was the head of a section responsible for recovering criminal assets, often pitting her against the nation’s organized drug criminals, many of whom were believed to have ties to the Taliban.

Bari worked as a prosecutor in the attorney general’s office in the crime analysis section. He’s written three books for post-secondary students in Afghanistan who want to pursue a career as a prosecutor, and also wrote newspaper articles and lectured at a private university.



Canada: Une avocate visée par des menaces de mort


L’avocate et députée libérale sortante dans Saint-Laurent, Marwah Rizqy, demande à ce que les élus et les candidats disposent de mesures de sécurité accrues après qu’un homme a été arrêté pour avoir proféré des menaces de mort à son endroit.

« Tout a commencé le 19 août avec la première menace, qui était d’abord sur mon mur Facebook », a raconté Mme Rizqy, en point de presse mercredi. « Puis, par la suite, ça s’est vraiment accéléré. L’individu a commencé à appeler à mon poste de quartier, à appeler à d’autres postes de police, pour faire des menaces. »

Des messages vocaux « par rapport à mon décès et à ma mort », précise-t-elle, ont aussi été laissés sur la boîte vocale du député libéral sortant dans Marquette, Enrico Ciccone. Mme Rizqy explique que dans les messages, l’homme prétendait que son corps avait été retrouvé sans vie, le tout en nommant la rue sur laquelle elle demeure.

« Vous avez appris à me connaître, je suis une femme quand même assez forte, mais c’est la première fois que… J’étais dans ma salle de bain et mes genoux ont commencé à claquer », une citation de Marwah Rizqy, députée libérale sortante, Saint-Laurent.

« La semaine passée, ça a été très difficile pour moi parce que c’est vrai que je suis rendue à huit mois de grossesse. C’est la première fois qu’on me demande de rester chez nous, de ne pas sortir, d’annuler mes engagements », a-t-elle expliqué.

L’individu à l’origine des menaces proférées contre Mme Rizqy a finalement été arrêté, après plusieurs jours de travail des agents du Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) et de la Sûreté du Québec (SQ) pour arriver à l’identifier et à le localiser. Il a comparu vendredi.










https://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/man-arrested-for-making-threats-against-liberal-mna-marwah-rizqy (ENGLISH)


Canada: One year after the Taliban reclaimed power Afghan judge reflects on overseeing domestic violence cases and adjusting to new life


Wahida Rahimi’s phone never left her side on August 31, 2021. She barely slept, afraid of missing a text message or call. She was so attached to the device that she vowed to never look at it again if she could flee the country safely.

Sixteen days earlier, the Taliban recaptured Kabul.

As the remaining US planes took off, Rahimi’s phone lit up with messages from colleagues asking what to do. She forwarded them screenshots she was receiving from advocates who told her “We’re going to help. Have faith. Be hopeful.” She still has those messages.

Rahimi was one of 270 female judges who were desperately trying to leave Afghanistan. Judges had become targets for the work they did in delivering justice to women in domestic violence cases and for sending the Taliban’s members to jail.

Throughout the tumult, Rahimi remained hopeful. “It was not meant to be the end for me. I’m not going to be a victim. I’m a survivor,” she told Insider.

‘It totally changed their lives’

Up until the last few days of the regime change, Rahimi was still working as a judge in Panjshir province, a mountainous region known for its natural beauty. Her commute took nearly three hours and she had to be accompanied by a driver due to safety concerns. In January 2021, two female Afghan Supreme Court judges were shot and killed in Kabul. Afghan officials blamed the Taliban, but the group denied the accusations.

Rahimi was chosen by the country’s Supreme Court in 2018 to oversee the province’s newly created court of domestic violence and presided over cases ranging from murder to physical abuse.







https://tolonews.com/fa/afghanistan-179577 (DARI)

https://www.independentpersian.com/node/264101/%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C/%DA%AF%D9%81%D8%AA%DA%AF%D9%88%DB%8C-%D9%81%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%B2%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A8%D8%A7-%D9%87%D8%AF%D9%81-%D8%A7%D8%AD%DB%8C%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%A7%D8%B3%DB%8C (FARSI)

Afghan judges and prosecutors who sentenced Taliban ask Spain for help


Zobaida Akbar worked in the General Prosecutor’s Office of Afghanistan until August 15, 2021. That day, the Taliban took over Kabul, and this prosecutor, who had handled hundreds of terrorism cases against radicals and local Daesh commanders, was forced to flee his home. “We went from our house to our relatives because they were looking for us,” he says. After suffering for several weeks, he managed to leave the country and reach Islamabad, Pakistan. She is one of 32 female lawyers for whom associations of judges and prosecutors have appealed to the Spanish government, who consider her situation critical.

In an open letter sent to Pedro Sánchez, the associations Judges and Judges for Democracy and the Progressive Union of Prosecutors regret that “the Spanish government is not responding to this humanitarian crisis in the way that is expected of our country.” In their letter, they recall that these women “had the right to accuse and condemn men, and this is anathema to the Taliban’s ideology” and that “for a very long time” they sought international protection at the Spanish Embassy in Islamabad. Answer.

Qudsia Sharif is one such woman. According to elDiario.es, seven months ago, he requested international protection from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the capital of Pakistan. This 28-year-old girl started her professional career in 2016 as a research lawyer in Ghor to eliminate violence against women. “At that time, I was the only woman working in justice in this province,” she explains. In 2018, she moved to Kabul to take up a position as a prosecutor, which led her to participate in around 40 trials against the Taliban, while also combining her gender research consulting work with international organizations.

“In August 2021, when the Afghan government collapsed due to the Taliban, the days of misery began, especially for women,” says Sharif. “Girls were first deprived of their right to education, protests were brutally suppressed, and protestors were arrested and tortured in prisons. Prosecutors and judges have been forced out of office and the judiciary is collapsing as cases are decided by fatwa [ley islámica]”, he explains from Islamabad. Organizations working to aid the group indicate that the Taliban have killed 26 prosecutors since taking over Kabul. “We’re trying to save our lives,” he says.

In an Amnesty International report, Published on July 27The organization agrees that “the Taliban violates the rights of women and girls to education, work and free movement; They destroy the projection and support system for those escaping gender-based domestic violence; arresting women and girls for minor violations of discriminatory rules; and contribute to the increase in the number of early and forced marriages in Afghanistan.” Additionally, the study’s findings echo what Sharifi expressed: “Women who peacefully protest these oppressive norms are threatened, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and subject to enforced disappearance.”

“Since the union of progressive prosecutors, we have spent a year in front of the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to prove the extreme situation experienced by the group of judges, prosecutors and human rights defenders. For a rule of law like ours to work, there must be people who guarantee this public service. When the situation changes, as the Taliban seize power, it is a moral obligation to protect these people,” UPF President Ines Herrera defends.







https://www.cnb.avocat.fr/fr/actualites/chute-de-kaboul-un-apres-que-pouvons-nous-faire (FRANCAIS)


‘Waiting for our death’: Afghan military lawyers beg Canada for help to escape


A former Canadian military legal officer says a group of Afghan lawyers and other staff who helped his mission in Afghanistan have been “left in the dark,” and is urging Canada’s Immigration Ministry to act quickly to help them escape the Taliban.

It’s been one year since Canada began accepting fleeing Afghans through its one-year special immigration program for Afghans who helped the Canadian government, set up a few weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021.

To date, roughly 17,170 Afghans have arrived in Canada. Last month, the Liberal government closed its immigration program to new applicants, less than halfway toward its goal of bringing 40,000 Afghans to Canada.

“If [Canada] would not act upon my request and as soon as possible, I could lose my life,” said Popal, one of the Afghan military prosecutors who applied for this program, and whom CBC has agreed not to identify.

“When Popal called me for help, it was very heart-wrenching,” said retired major Cory Moore, a former military legal officer with the Canadian Armed Forces who was deployed three times to Afghanistan.

Moore is helping 12 applicants and their families apply for this program, and is still waiting for word from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on the fate of these 66 people. Their applications were filed between September and December 2021.

The group includes military prosecutors, criminal investigators, security staff, recruitment video participants, a doctor and a journalist. 

All 12 Afghans were involved in various capacities during Moore’s mission to help bolster the Afghan National Army’s legal branch. He created a project to recruit Afghan law grads, making a recruitment video which aired nationally from 2012 to 2021.

As a result, eight female military lawyers were hired as prosecutors and criminal investigators with the military, in what Moore calls a “historical precedent.”






https://news-24.fr/des-traducteurs-afghans-laisses-pour-compte-et-craignant-pour-leur-vie-apres-avoir-aide-les-forces-britanniques-a-poursuivre-le-gouvernement-britannique-nouvelles-du-royaume-uni/ (FRANCAIS)


https://www.fidh.org/es/region/asia/afganistan/afganistan-garantizar-la-justicia-a-un-ano-de-la-toma-del-poder-por?var_mode=calcul (PORTUGUES)

USA: Condemning the Murder of Mumtaz Sherhai in Afghanistan and Calling on the International Community to Demand Taliban Compliance with International Law


The New York City Bar Association (“City Bar”) condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent brutal murder of Afghan professor and former prosecutor Mumtaz Sherzai.[1]

Mumtaz Sherzai’s Murder

On July 15, 2022, Mumtaz Sherzai went missing from his home in the Matun district of the city of Khost, in Khost province in southeast Afghanistan.[2] Sherzai was a former National Directorate of Security (“NDS”) prosecutor and a professor at Khost University.[3] The following day, on July 16, Sherzai’s remains were found in the Tani district, near the Khost province airport.[4] His bruised and bloodied body bore obvious signs of beatings and severe torture, which are presumed to be his cause of death.[5] Sherzai is survived by his wife and their three-year-old daughter.[6] He was the sole breadwinner for his extended family.[7]

Sherzai’s Targeting as a Former Prosecutor and as a Professor

Regrettably, Sherzai’s murder is by no means an isolated instance. Both his service as a former prosecutor and his employment as a law professor at the time of his death rendered him highly vulnerable as a target of the Taliban. As a federal prosecutor with the NDS in the Afghan government before the mid-August 2021 Taliban takeover, Sherzai was responsible for investigating and prosecuting cases involving domestic and international terrorism, as well as other national security-related crimes.[8] Like hundreds of other former prosecutors across the country, Sherzai feared Taliban retribution[9] and was seeking to be evacuated to safety.[10] Most of the former prosecutors who have not escaped Afghanistan are in hiding.[11] Moreover, even before mid-August 2021, federal prosecutors regularly fell victim to the Taliban and other insurgent forces.[12]

Sherzai’s post-August 2021 work as a law professor also made him a target. For example, in one of the most recent high-profile cases involving the persecution of an Afghan legal professional, the Taliban arrested Faizullah Jalal, a prominent professor of law and political science at Kabul University. When Jalal was snatched from his Kabul home on January 8, 2022, the international community was seized with fear for the professor’s life. His release by the Taliban, unharmed, mere days later has been attributed to the swift and vocal worldwide condemnation of the Taliban’s action. But for that global outcry, the professor likely may have met a very different fate.[13]

Protections for Sherzai Under International Law

Sherzai’s murder highlights the Taliban’s grave violations of basic principles and precepts of international law in Afghanistan. These principles and precepts are designed to protect all members of the legal profession.[14]






Afghanistan’s laws and legal institutions under the Taliban


The Taliban took over the Afghan capital Kabul in August 2021 and regained control of the entire country. The first time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan (1996-2001), they were virtually stepping into an absence of a legal and political order. However, this time the Taliban have taken over a two-decade-old political and legal order, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. What does the Taliban takeover mean for the country’s laws and legal institutions? What does it mean for the legal trajectory of Afghanistan?

Building on the ruins that the years of civil war and Taliban rule had left behind, the Republic was founded on a constitution (2004) that, by many standards, could be considered the most progressive constitution in the region. Within this progressive constitutional framework, two elected presidents and four elected parliaments enacted numerous laws. The Supreme Court, the country’s top court, was reestablished as the head of a formally independent judiciary. The Attorney General’s office was reestablished to formally introduce an element of due process in the criminal justice system. Law and political science faculties and Shari’ah faculties, two schools that would supply the justice sector personnel, started graduating people who would staff the growing justice sector. The surplus of law and Shari’ah graduates, the flow of aid to the formal justice sector, and the increase in demand (and need) for formal legal services led to the emergence of a nascent private legal market where a formally independent bar association licensed and regulated the private defence attorneys.


The Taliban have purged the judiciary from the appointees of the Republic era. In their place, the Taliban Amir has exclusively appointed individuals who bear the title of Shaykh, Mufti, and Mulavi suggesting knowledge of the prophetic tradition, qualification to issue authoritative answers on questions of Islamic law, and madrasa training, respectively. Ending the pluralism of the Afghan judiciary, these appointments have purged from the judiciary those with modern legal education and training in Afghan state legislation. While the details of the intellectual pedigree of these appointees remain unknown, every indicator suggests all these appointees are trained in Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence.

The Taliban have suspended the independent status of Afghanistan’s Independent Bar Association placing it under the control of the Ministry of Justice. The licensed defence attorneys are required to pass an oral test administered by the Ministry of Justice to keep their license.

The Taliban have shown no consideration for due process of law. Save for an acting attorney general and an acting deputy, there is little public information about the Taliban’s prosecutorial appointments, but almost all Republic era prosecutors were dismissed. The formal criminal justice system only handles a small number of cases and punishing those accused of crimes has been left to the Taliban’s fighters and local commanders. Taliban fighters have tended to punish those accused of a crime on the spot or after a brief on-site consideration. The punishment has ranged from public shaming to corporal punishment and in serious cases, death. At least in one case, according to media reports, a Talib commander in a northern province of the country ordered and oversaw the stoning of two people accused of committing adultery.



Canada: From Kabul to Calgary: An Afghan Law Student’s Dangerous Journey


Almost a year after the fall of Kabul, Shakira Yazdani arrived in Calgary, thanks to support from lawyers and a law professor. But she’s one of the lucky ones. Other Afghans at the law firm she worked at in Afghanistan are still in hiding, waiting to hear about their visa status.

Following a harrowing year that included the “most difficult” 24 hours of her life, Afghan law student Shakira Yazdani arrived in Canada on Canada Day to a rousing welcome from students at the University of Calgary Law School, where she will be studying to get her J.D.

Among the more than 100,000 Afghans who applied for evacuation as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Yazdani is a lucky one. Thousands are still trapped and seeking legal advice, advocates say.

When the Taliban took over, Yazdani was studying law at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul and working as a legal assistant with the law firm Shajjan & Associates, which provided legal services to the Canadian embassy in Kabul.

She and her parents attempted to leave Kabul after it fell to the Taliban, but their bus was turned back from the airport. It was another month before she was able to leave Afghanistan with a group of students—but not her parents—with permits organized by the U.S. embassy to study at the American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan.

The students were driven up to the Pakistan border, where they faced hours of questioning and where Yazdani said some were beaten by the Taliban before officials “miraculously” opened the gates for 10 minutes and let everyone cross.

She and the others “ran through” but she said they could barely walk once on the other side because of the blazing sun, 45C temperatures, and being fully covered except for her eyes. She said she and the group faced more roadblocks from Pakistani border officials, but were finally able to make it through. She was in Islamabad for three weeks before getting her visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan, where she finished her bachelor of law degree while applying for yet another visa—to Canada.

Yazdani’s connection with Shajjan & Associates should have meant that getting a Canadian visa would be relatively easy under the government’s special immigration program (SIM) for Afghans who assisted the Canadian government. A number of her colleagues applied last August and she and others applied less than a month later. 

“We never heard from [the government],” she said this week from her dorm room at the University of Calgary.

Saeeq Shajjan, founder and principal of Shajjan & Associates, fled Afghanistan and made it to Canada last September. He expected the other 28 lawyers and staff of his firm to soon follow, but 11 months on, they have not escaped or heard anything from the Canadian government.

They thought it would be “a matter of only a few weeks, but here we are, it’s almost one year since they applied and they are mostly in hiding,” afraid of being hunted by the Taliban for helping Canada, Shajjan said in an interview.








https://lactualite.com/actualites/un-an-plus-tard-les-conservateurs-denoncent-les-delais-pour-accueillir-des-afghans/ (FRANCAIS)