Afghanistan’s legal system collapse is a “human rights tragedy.”

Date:

Afghanistan's legal system collapse is a "human rights tragedy."

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Friday, January 20, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • The UN experts stressed their deep worry over the extreme exclusion of women from the judicial system and pleaded for “immediate support” from the global community.

  • In “a clear act of bias,” the Taliban allegedly tried to make it so that no woman could participate in the justice system.

  • More than 250 female judges and several female lawyers and prosecutors have already been fired.

  • UN experts say that the Taliban have “precipitated the collapse of the rule of law and judicial independence in Afghanistan” by suspending the 2004 Constitution, firing all judges, and taking away the Attorney General’s office’s most important duties.

  • “Instead of an accessible court system, the Taliban’s version of Sharia law is enforced by an all-male dictatorship in the country.

In a joint statement, Special Rapporteurs Richard Bennett, who focuses on the state of human rights in Afghanistan, and Margaret Satterthwaite, who focuses on the independence of judges and lawyers, said that “lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and other actors with the legal system in Afghanistan face grave risks to their safety.”

Assertive discrimination

Before the 24th International Day of the Endangered Lawyer, lawyers in Afghanistan, especially women lawyers, said that upholding the rule of law put their lives in danger.

The UN experts talked about how worried they were about how few women were in the justice system and asked for “immediate support” from the rest of the world.

In “a clear act of bias,” the Taliban allegedly tried to make it so that no woman could participate in the justice system.

More than 250 female judges and several female lawyers and prosecutors have already been fired.

“Grade 1 risk”

The statement went on to say that prosecutors had been “systematically sidelined” and that their prior work as investigators and prosecutors of Taliban members under democratically elected governments had put them in “grave danger.”

Unknown killers are said to have killed more than a dozen prosecutors, most of whom were men, in Kabul and other provinces. Many continue to hide.

UN experts say that the Taliban have “precipitated the collapse of the rule of law and judicial independence in Afghanistan” by suspending the 2004 Constitution, firing all judges, and taking away the Attorney General’s office’s most important duties.

“Instead of a free court system, the Taliban’s version of Sharia law is enforced by an all-male dictatorship in the country.”

Most de facto judges are Taliban members who have only had basic religious training and are led by muftis, Muslim legal experts with the power to decide about religion.

Women can only be there if they are involved in a case and the rules and laws that govern how lawyers work have been put on hold.

“Potential criminals are often arrested, found guilty, and sentenced by police and other security forces on the same day, taking away any semblance of due process or judicial review,” the report’s authors said.

Demand for action

They asked for more help from the international community for non-governmental organizations, legal aid providers, and lawyers who fight for justice and human rights, focusing on the plight of women lawyers and those who work for gender equality.

The statement said that “international players should give safety and safe passage to lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and other actors in the legal system, especially women, who are at risk of retaliation and attacks by the Taliban and others.”

Even though there have been “unimaginable obstacles,” legal experts have kept working to meet the legal needs of Afghans since the de facto authorities took over.

The experts suggested that “they deserve much more in the form of help.”

They told the Taliban to “immediately reverse” their unfair policies that keep women out of the court system, protect the lives of everyone who works in the justice system, and ensure that everyone in Afghanistan has the right to a fair trial.

Based in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council sends special rapporteurs to look into a country’s situation or a human rights issue and report back to the council. The specialists have honorary status and are not compensated for their services.

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