International legal body expresses concern for Afghan judges, lawyers

International Bar Association urges safe passage for Afghans who helped ‘build more inclusive society in Afghanistan’

LONDON (AA) – The International Bar Association (IBA) and its Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) on Wednesday expressed concerns over the welfare of judges, lawyers and legal professionals in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban.

“The IBA and IBAHRI are particularly concerned about individuals working for the justice system who may now face risk of persecution. Following the killing of two female judges earlier this year, the IBA and IBAHRI express serious concern for the fate of the 250 women Judges in the country,” the legal body said in a statement.

“These Judges who have tried and sentenced members of the Taliban are reported to be at particular risk, because to the Taliban it is generally unacceptable for women to sit in judgment over men. Prosecutors and their families have also been reported as targets of Taliban reprisals,” the statement added.

It said a UN report released in July revealed more women and children were killed in Afghanistan in the first half of 2021 than in the first six months of any year since records began in 2009, as well as the attacks on female judges, media workers and school girls.

The legal institution has called on the international community to provide protection to these sections of Afghan society as well as the protection of the human rights of all Afghan citizens. Moreover, treaties protecting the rights of women and children should be upheld.

The London-based international institution, which represents legal bodies across the world, and its affiliate, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) also called on the international community to hold the Taliban to account over its promises to protect the rights of women and to ensure peace and stability for the country.

“The Taliban has uttered assurances to the world including that “women’s rights will be respected”. However, the language is vague and it is likely that different provinces will institute their own interpretations of this and other guarantees,” IBA’s Executive Director Dr Mark Ellis said in a statement.

“The gains achieved to date in Afghanistan towards genuine expansion to a more inclusive society require continued adherence to international human rights principles, including those found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These guarantees must not be allowed to simply disappear,” Ellis added.

Sternford Moyo, the president of the IBA, described the scenes coming out of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul as shocking and horrific and has called on the international community to improve their coordination on the evacuation of Afghan civilians and provide safe passage to those whose lives are under threat.

“We call on the international community to improve coordination in providing safe passage and havens to those who worked hard to build a more inclusive society in Afghanistan with respect for the Rule of Law and an individual’s human rights,” Moyo said.

“Also, we call for the establishment of a United Nations special envoy on Afghanistan for the monitoring of civilians killed and human rights breaches,” the president added.​​​​​​​


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