The Law Society has highlighted the “imminent” threat posed to the safety of judges, other legal professionals and human rights advocates working in Afghanistan and has called on the government to offer prompt support, safe passage and, wherever possible, asylum in the UK, as the Taliban strengthens its control over the country.
Law Society president, I. Stephanie Boyce, said: “The situation of legal professionals and those working in the Afghan justice system more generally is increasingly a cause for alarm”.
Violence and attacks by the Taliban have increased over recent months. In January 2021, it was reported two female judges of the Afghan Supreme Court had been murdered after gunmen riding a motorcycle shot them as they were being driven to their office in a court vehicle.
Boyce said: “We are particularly concerned about the approximately 270 women judges and 170 women lawyers, who are especially likely to be at risk.
“Legal professionals in Afghanistan have made invaluable contributions by promoting the rule of law and safeguarding fundamental freedoms. They deserve our utmost respect and support”.
The government’s new Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme is not yet open (as at 19 August). The scheme aims to welcome up to 5000 vulnerable Afghans into the UK to the UK in its first year, with up to a total of 20,000 in the long-term.
Boyce welcomed the scheme but said she was “concerned” its target to offer sanctuary in the UK to Afghans in the first year of the scheme will not protect those in “imminent danger”. She urged the government to “ensure the scheme moves at a faster pace.”