Bar associations call for expedited evacuation of 250 women judges of Afghanistan
Lives of women judges who heard trials against Taliban members are endangered after the fall of the regime in the strife-torn country
Bar associations of various countries have called upon for expedited evacuation of and asylum for 250 female judges in the strife-torn Afghanistan because of heightened threat to their lives following Taliban militia's take over of the country.
Among the bar associations concerned over the reported house-to-house searches of women judges appointed by the previous government by the Taliban include the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Bar Association and the Law Society of England and Wales.
In a statement, they have highlighted the threat to the lives of women judges who in the past had heard trials against members of the Taliban, and lawyers who worked for the fallen civilian government following the pullout of the American troops from the country.
Law Society of England and Wales president Stephanie Boyce has said that she was concerned about the UK government's hastily assembled resettlement scheme, which aims to accommodate 5,000 vulnerable Afghans in its first year. She felt that it would be insufficient to protect all those in "imminent danger" and called for it to be accelerated.
The moves followed an interview of one such woman judge who is currently in hiding to a Canadian news channel that she had burned her documents because house searches were underway, while another said: "For Taliban members just being a judge is enough reason to be killed. Especially women judges are more in danger."
The Ministry of Justice of the fallen civilian regime in 2019 had claimed that women constituted some 21 per cent of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, which had advocated for women's advancement in the justice sector with support from the International Bar Association and other bar groups.
The looming threat to the lives of women judges had come to the fore even before the Taliban took over the reins of the country when two women members of Afghanistan's Supreme Court were assassinated allegedly by the Taliban militia in January this year.
"Women judges are seen as an especial threat by the Taliban or their allies who do not accept a woman can stand in judgement of a man," said The International Society of Women Judges.
Tony Pagone QC, president of the Rome-based International Association of Judges, said: "Women judges in Afghanistan have already expressed genuine fear in an uncertain and evolving situation. They are one of many groups that have tried to implement the values which many of us take for granted and which the West has actively encouraged. They cannot be left without support."
There is a growing demand in the US to the President Joe Biden administration to help evacuate women leaders from the country with a group of Senators calling on the administration to create a "humanitarian parole category specifically for women leaders", as well as hundreds of journalists and human rights activists, among others.