Tag Archives: USA

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)

USA: Florida Governor DeSantis faces trial for suspending prosecutor who defied abortion ban law


Andrew Warren, a Democrat, sued Florida governor for suspension after saying he would not enforce new 15-week abortion law

A Florida prosecutor suspended by Ron DeSantis for defying a new 15-week abortion law says a federal judge’s decision to send his reinstatement appeal to trial means a reckoning is coming for the state’s Republican governor.

Andrew Warren, a Democrat, was removed as Hillsborough county state attorney on 4 August after saying he would not enforce the abortion ban or prosecute providers of gender transition treatment for young people.

DeSantis cited Warren’s alleged “woke agenda” in reasons for his decision.

At a hearing in Tallahassee on Monday, Judge Robert Hinkle denied motions from DeSantis to dismiss Warren’s lawsuit, and another by Warren seeking an immediate return to office, instead requesting their differences be settled at a trial in the coming weeks.

“The governor now has to answer it to a court of law where facts matter and where you have to tell the truth,” Warren said in an interview with the Guardian.

“It’s a victory for the truth. A federal judge has ruled that the governor has to come into court to explain the reasons behind my suspension, to show that it wasn’t political, to show that it wasn’t in violation of my free speech rights, to show that it wasn’t in violation of the voters’ rights to have the state attorney of their choice.”





The Philippines/USA: New York City Bar Association condemns attack on Cebu lawyer


The group urges the new government ‘to take all measures necessary to ensure that legal professionals are able to fulfill their professional obligations safely and without impediment’

The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) has condemned the attempted assassination of Cebu Port Authority lawyer Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales.

“The New York City Bar Association joins the international community in condemning the attempted assassination of Karen Quiñanola-Gonzales and fears that it may be a harbinger of things to come,” the NYCBA said in a statement.

“As the CHR’s reference to ‘the continuing violence against legal professionals’ indicates, the recent attempt on the life of Quiñanola-Gonzales is by no means an isolated instance,” it added, noting the number of killings of members of the legal profession in the country during the administration of Rodrigo Duterte.

Gonzales and her son, Keith Gonzales, were driving near Hernan Cortes Street in Barangay Tipolo when they were ambushed by motorcycle-riding men.

Mandaue City police have identified the gunman behind the attack as 42-year-old swimming instructor Richard Basalo Delibo.

Lieutenant Colonel Franco Rudolf Oriol, deputy city director for operations of the Mandaue City Police Office, said they filed a complaint for two counts of frustrated murder against Delibo with the City Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, September 16.







USA: Ukrainian scholars and others finding a helping hand at University of Pittsburgh School of Law


Amid the Russian invasion, Pitt professors and programs are aiding Ukraine and Ukrainians in their efforts to continue their academic scholarship, prepare to rebuild their country and treat victims — particularly of trauma and its effects.

The School of Law, pointing to the many ways Russia has tried to use the law to confront Ukraine before and during the war, has brought eight Ukrainian law students here to the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) with full scholarships to earn their LLM (master of laws) degree. It is part of the school’s broader Ukrainian Legal Assistance Project, which is helping prepare these students — many of them already accomplished Ukrainian lawyers — to rebuild their country after the war and to connect them now with law firms and companies here for pro bono work that can help Ukraine today.

CILE Executive Director Charles T. Kotuby Jr. points out that the program already has experience bringing students here from Afghanistan with similar goals for their homeland.

“What we’re really trying to do is create the next generation of leaders” in Ukraine, Kotuby said. “The Ukrainian students — you cannot keep them here … They want to go back and rebuild the country.”

CILE has asked the Pittsburgh legal community and international businesses for help in taking on these students part-time while they are here, involving them in legal work today. “We’ve had a wonderful response,” Kotuby said. “They are a remarkable bunch of students.

One of them is Olha V. Tsyliuryk, who already has 13 years’ experience in the law. When the war hit, she was legal adviser to the mayor of Enerhodar, 420 miles from Kyiv. She is also an elected member of her district council and a university lecturer with her own law practice. Enerhodar is the site of the nuclear power plant currently under siege by the Russians.

When the war started, she drove to Warsaw and flew to Washington, D.C., where she quickly became involved in a project to deliver food to several Ukrainian districts and raise money for relief.

By July, she felt she could do more and decided to expand her legal know-how for the eventual reconstruction of her country. “It’s very important for me to obtain new experience and new skills,” Tsyliuryk said.

Her family, whom she has not seen in half a year, is still in Ukraine. “It’s very difficult and fearful for me,” she said. “I hope everything is over soon.”

In the meantime she says that lawyers with international experience will be crucial for making Ukraine safe for the investment needed to rebuild it, she said.



https://unba.org.ua/news/7601-zaproshuemo-advokativ-vzyati-uchast-u-blagodijnomu-turniri-zi-shvidkih-shahiv-na-pidtrimku-zsu.html (UKRAINIAN)



https://www.amnesty.be/veux-agir/agir-ligne/petitions/crimee-avocates (FRANCAIS – SIGNEZ LA PETITION!)

Azerbaijan: “The arrest of Sadigov is another blow to the independent legal profession” – human rights activists


The Center for Monitoring Political Prisoners issued a statement condemning the arrest of human rights lawyer Elchin Sadigov.

“Azerbaijan is systematically removing from the legal profession  the lawyers specializing in the human rights sphere. In recent years, well-known lawyers who were not afraid to defend the rights of many political prisoners, and in particular Khalid Baghirov, Alaif Hasanov, Yalchin Imanov, Elchin Namazov, were expelled from the Bar for unreasonable reasons. Some, fearing reprisals, were forced to leave the country.

In the case of Elchin Sadigov, one of the last lawyers defending political prisoners, the authorities went even further and arrested him, which is undoubtedly related to his professional activities,” said Elshan Hasanov, head of the Center for Monitoring Political Prisoners.

Thus, the process of depriving citizens of high-quality legal protection is being consistently carried out in the country.

“People are actually deprived of the opportunity to receive legal assistance from a lawyer of their choice. Lawyers loyal to the leadership, controlled by the authorities of the Bar Association, are being imposed on citizens. There is no such radical pressure on lawyers even in “Putin’s Russia,” Hasanov continued.

The Center for Monitoring Political Prisoners demands the release of lawyer Elchin Sadigov from custody,  restoration of his powers, and demands to repressions against independent lawyers.










https://www.turan.az/ext/news/2022/9/free/politics_news/az/9252.htm/001 (AZERBAIJANI)

https://www.coe.int/fr/web/commissioner/view/-/asset_publisher/ugj3i6qSEkhZ/content/azerbaijan-s-authorities-should-immediately-release-human-right-lawyer-elchin-sadykov-and-journalist-avaz-zeynalli-and-stop-intimidating-and-harassing (FRANCAIS)

A Crisis of Justice for Afghan Victims of War


A year since the Taliban military reoccupation of Kabul and the withdrawal of the NATO military presence, justice seems even further away for victims of war in Afghanistan. While there has been a reduction in conflict-related violence, terrorist attacks as well as the fighting between Taliban and the armed resistance in PanjshirBaghlan, and earlier in Balkhab, Saripul has continued to cause civilian harm. Ongoing violence, coupled with lack of accountability, shrinking space for reporting and documentation of violations, and dismissal of rights institutions has created a bleak situation for victims in Afghanistan. Additionally, despite the catastrophic human rights situation inside the country, the international community and United Nations (U.N.) mechanisms have continued with their “business as usual” approach to accountability in Afghanistan, failing to take meaningful steps to deliver justice, ensure accountability, and counter impunity for gross violations of international humanitarian law in the country.

Afghan victims of war have been waiting for justice for a long time. Afghanistan has been in war for over 40 years, with direct international involvement for the past 20 years. Almost every family has experienced some form of harm by the various parties to the conflict, including the international military forces. In these past four decades, neither national governments and local actors, nor the international community that proclaimed commitments to human rights and democracy have taken meaningful steps toward justice and accountability for civilian victims of war in Afghanistan.

A year since the end of intense fighting, any attention to the victims of war in Afghanistan has faded and the discourse of victim-centered justice seems to be forgotten. Domestically, Taliban have dismantled the existing legal system, dissolving the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, replacing trained lawyers with their own members and fighters who only have religious training, and excluding female staff from the judiciary. It is unclear what legal framework is being upheld, with laws around protection of women from violence, and detainees from torture, being scrapped.  The justice sector has been gutted, with professionals forced out, leaving the sector voluntarily, or fleeing the country, and decisions by Taliban judges are taken on an arbitrary basis. The legal framework and institutions that once offered some protection or legal remedy to victims of war, flawed as they were, have now been completely abolished and abandoned. Afghan civil society actors and the local human rights community are mostly now in exile or keeping a low profile in Afghanistan, unable to advocate for a just peace or victims’ rights. Even the memory boxes – exhibits honoring the memories of victims of the past four decades of war, which had been on display in Kabul until last year – and the activists collecting them have been forced into exile following the takeover by the Taliban.

While the justice sector is being dismantled and the space for documentation and advocacy has completely closed, the violations continue to cause civilian harm. Executions, enforced disappearances, allegations of torture and mistreatment by Taliban have become daily news. Taliban are exercising collective punishment against communities from Panjshir and the Hazaras. They conduct “cleaning” operations in areas of conflict such as Balkhab where they raid houses and arrest civilians on suspicion of affiliation with their enemies, including the former international coalition.




https://www.amnesty.fr/refugies-et-migrants/actualites/des-afghans-repousses-par-des-tirs-aux-frontieres-de-l-iran-et-de-la-turquie (FRANCAIS)

ABA project aims to help Afghan legal professionals establish themselves in the United States


In the weeks following the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on Aug. 15, the ABA Journal is highlighting the ABA’s efforts to help judges and lawyers from Afghanistan resettle, obtain immigration benefits and secure jobs using their legal skills. This is part one in our series.

In early November, Michael Byowitz attended a virtual program called “Women Judges of Afghanistan: A Call to Action,” and heard the harrowing stories of female judges who fled Afghanistan as the Taliban took over their country.

The program, which was sponsored by the International Law Section’s International Human Rights Committee and featured speakers from the International Association of Women Judges, also described the work of non-governmental organizations to help these judges first find temporary refuge in other countries before resettling in the United States.

“Toward the end of the program, I asked a question, and the question was, ‘What are these people going to do for work when they get resettled? How are they going to make a living?’” says Byowitz, of counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City. “And I specifically asked if there was a route for them to qualify for jobs in the U.S. legal profession, either as lawyers or in other law-related capacities.”

Byowitz, a past ILS chair, had a potential solution in mind. He proposed connecting the Afghan judges with LLM programs—one-year graduate legal studies programs that expose international students to U.S. law systems and legal reasoning. Some states, including California and New York, allow international students who earn an LLM degree to then sit for their bar exams.

He reached out to then-ABA President Reginald Turner and Executive Director Jack Rives, who told him about the ABA Afghanistan Response Project, an initiative a group of entities, members and staff established in August 2021 to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis. Byowitz shared his plan at one of its meetings and got the green light from then-ILS chair Nancy Stafford to work with their colleagues to put it into action.

Byowitz helped launch the Afghan Professionals Resettlement Task Force, which proposed a pilot program to identify a small number of candidates who are interested in obtaining LLM degrees, taking the bar exam and joining the U.S. legal profession. In June, the Board of Governors approved the pilot program, which will focus primarily on female Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

“Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers are highly educated, trained people who have held positions of substantial responsibility,” Byowitz says. “To utilize their skills to the best advantage for them and for the United States, we should have a program like this.”





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

USA: Corpus Christi Lawyer Arrested on Suspicion of Human Smuggling, Resisting Arrest


An attorney from Corpus Christi who claimed to work for the federal government on immigration cases was arrested in Kinney County on suspicion of human smuggling and resisting arrest, according to a constable working near the southern border on Operation Lone Star.

Galveston County Precinct Two Constable Jimmy Fullen is among many law enforcement officers from across the state who are assisting border patrol and local officials with responding to illegal immigration.

“A licensed Texas attorney and Federally appointed immigration magistrate was recently arrested in Kinney County, Texas for Smuggling of a human and resisting arrest,” Fullen wrote on Facebook. “Great job Deputy Gonzalez and Troopers who were on scene assisting.”

The constable posted images of the subjects arrested, including attorney Timothy Daniel Japhet. Fullen included a photograph of Japhet’s law license, which indicated he was licensed in May 2003.

Fullen told The Texan on Monday that one of his deputies arrested Japhet, who claimed at the time to be a federal immigration magistrate. The deputy took him into custody with a Texas Department of Public Safety officer, Fullen explained, and accused Japhet of resisting arrest.

Japhet was reportedly taken into custody on August 13 and held for six days before being released on a $40,000 bond. He was charged with four counts of human smuggling.

The lawyer told an ABC affiliate in Corpus Christi that he thought he was merely picking up hitchhikers on his way to visit the Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass. He also denied being accused of resisting arrest.

He told 3NEWS that he became uneasy about the four individuals he had picked up, so he began speeding, hoping to attract the police attention and get pulled over.

Japhet also stated that he is not a federal immigration magistrate but handles cases involving property owned in Mexico, the outlet reported.





Afghanistan: “In the final week’s of my bachelor’s degree, I was studying law, but there was no rule of law, no freedom, and no law”


Law students and lawyers in Afghanistan are filing reports with JURIST on the situation that has developed there since the Taliban takeover. Here, our correspondent, a now-graduated law student, reflects on her academic, professional and personal circumstances before and after the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021.  For privacy and security reasons, we are withholding our correspondent’s name. The text has only been lightly edited to respect the author’s voice.

I’m writing my story as a law student on the day that the Taliban took over the country.

I was in my last semester in Law and Political Science. The day Afghanistan collapsed I was involved in many self-made programs and plans: learning three foreign languages, competing in numerous national and international competitions, writing proposals, attempting to establish learning clubs at my university, attempting to obtain internships, and so on.

As an active law student, when the dark shadow of the Taliban took over the bright sky of Afghanistan, I lost everything I had and everything I wished to have in the future.

In the very first days of the Taliban invasion, the French institute in Afghanistan stopped its activities, such as administering international DELF/DALF tests, organizing learning classes and other kinds of cultural activities. The groups organizing international competitions in Afghanistan stopped their activities and a large number of students who had been involved in these competitions were obliged to stop following their dreams. The doors of universities, schools, and other learning institutions were closed; many international scholarship programs stopped their activities in Afghanistan, … and half the Afghan people are obliged to stay at home. I am one of that large number, a woman.

On August 15th, I lost my future, my dreams, the best version of myself in the near future, my favorite path and my peace.

After that day, I was deprived of the chance of going to university; I couldn’t follow my French and English classes; I wasn’t able to take French and English exams; I couldn’t participate in national and international competitions; I was deprived of the opportunity to get internships; I was deprived of serving my country.

After that day, I was obliged to stay at home, to forget myself, to leave my dreams,

On that dark day, I lost my freedom.

We lost everything.

After many months and with people putting lots of effort into it, the Taliban finally opened the university doors. I went to university, but it wasn’t the university that we left before August 15th. The university was empty, empty of freedom, ambition, and hope.

A gender separation plan was imposed and the male professors weren’t allowed to teach girls; the enter and exit times were fixed and no one could go out or into the university outside of the fixed times; wearing colorful dresses was forbidden; even taking a photo was forbidden for girls at university. Taliban forces were entering the faculties randomly with their guns to control the application of their ridiculous plans at university; university student associations were dissolved by the Taliban; the pictures of distinguished female professors and students were removed from the walls of faculties. The learning clubs have stopped their activities by the force of the Taliban, and the most important thing is that there was no rule of law in the faculty founded on the Rule of Law.

In the final weeks of my bachelor’s degree, I was studying law, but there was no rule of law, no freedom, and no law.





Afghanistan: One year after Taliban takeover, human rights defenders at greater risk than ever


One year since the Taliban captured power in Afghanistan, conditions for human rights defenders, especially women, have further deteriorated, the undersigned members of Protect Defenders.eu – said today. A year ago, when the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, they promised to respect human rights – including the rights of women and girls and media freedom. However, over the past year, they have carried out serious human rights violations and abuses, and sought to suppress civil society, media freedom, and any form of dissent with complete impunity.

Since 15 August 2021, we have witnessed the steady erosion of human rights gains in Afghanistan and attacks, reprisals, and a failure of any effective protection for human rights defenders in the country. Women and girls, religious and ethnic minorities, those speaking out against violations and for the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable, have been deliberately targeted. This is a pattern of violence that has been met with insufficient action from the international community. Human rights defenders who continue to work for their communities have been effectively abandoned and left without adequate support, access to resources, protection, and pathways to safety.   

Human rights defenders have faced near-daily attacks and violent reprisals including arrest, torture, threats and killings since the Taliban takeover. Escalating violence in the provinces has forced a large number of defenders to leave their homes and relocate and/or resettle. Human rights defenders, in particular women human rights defenders have been facing multiple risks and threats by the Taliban, including: kidnapping; arbitrary arrest and imprisonment; torture; physical and psychological harm; house searches; death and physical threats; intimidation and harassment; and violence against their family members. Women human rights defenders have also faced systematic oppression and segregation from public life. They have been stripped of their rights to work, freedom of movement, access to education, and to participate in public affairs. For those seeking to leave Afghanistan due to severe risk, safe and dignified pathways out of the country remain extremely difficult and challenging.

There has also been serious curtailment of freedom of expression and assembly. These freedoms are no longer legally and institutionally protected, and any form of dissent is met with arbitrary arrests and detention and enforced disappearance. Enforced disappearances of women, and arbitrary arrest of journalists and civil society activists are tactics adopted by the Taliban to silence voices that speak out.











https://www.hrw.org/ps/news/2022/08/11/afghanistan-talibans-catastrophic-year-rule (PASHTO)

https://www.hrw.org/gbz/news/2022/08/11/afghanistan-talibans-catastrophic-year-rule (DARI)

https://www.lemondedudroit.fr/institutions/83102-observatoire-international-avocats-danger-oiad-lance-campagne-soutien-plaidoyer-barreau-independant-afghanistan.html (FRANCAIS)

https://www.hrw.org/es/news/2022/08/11/afghanistan-talibans-catastrophic-year-rule (ESPANOL)