Today, January 24, marks the Day of the Endangered Lawyer. As a Canadian lawyer I want to draw attention to the challenges facing some members of the legal profession in Afghanistan. Since the Taliban government assumed power in the country more than a year ago, the risk of retaliation and danger have only increased for many lawyers and judges, particularly women, advocates say.
For Nasrin (whose name has been changed to protect her identity), leaving Afghanistan was the last resort.
She had spent decades developing pioneering legislation and policies as a judge and legal advocate. When the Taliban took over in August 2021, everything changed. Facing death threats, she ultimately left. “I didn’t have any choice,” she told me. “I left my country, my house.” Now she and other legal activists are warning about the ever-increasing risks that lawyers and judges in the country still face and the need for countries like Canada to step up their efforts to help at-risk Afghans.
“If a woman wants to be a leader, like head of a court … it’s a very big position, but it is very dangerous,” Nasrin says.
Judges like Nasrin, as well as prosecutors, have been threatened with reprisals from the people they tried and the Taliban themselves. She is in contact with colleagues in the legal profession who remain in Afghanistan, and says the situation is worse than a year ago, as lawyers and judges fear for their safety.
“The first line is judges, the second line is defence lawyers and prosecutors … they are searching to find them,” she says.
The development of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) in 2008 was part of a broader effort to build a non-governmental body that would regulate the legal profession and provide resources to support lawyers and access to legal services. But in November 2021, it was dismantled by armed Taliban soldiers and the Ministry of Justice gained possession of the AIBA’s database, containing contact information of members. The organization is now relaunching itself in exile, from Brussels.
International Day Of The Endangered Lawyer: “We Strongly And Unequivocally Condemn The Repressive Tendencies Of The Taliban Government In Afghanistan Towards Lawyers”- Maikyau
https://charidy.com/AfghanWomen (PLEASE CONTRIBUTE!)