Afghan female judges at particular risk amid Taliban takeover: law societies

Lawyer co-founds initiative supporting resettlement of Afghan refugees

Afghan female judges at particular risk amid Taliban takeover: law societies

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has expressed deep concern that around 270 female judges in Afghanistan, who have already encountered serious threats, are now facing intensified risks since the elected Afghan government fell and the Taliban seized control.

The statement from the federation noted that recent developments show a quickly worsening situation that also affect the women’s families. Female judges in Afghanistan face particular risks due to their work to ensure a fair and effective judicial branch in line with international norms, although judges, lawyers and other justice system stakeholders in the country are also under threat, recent news reports have suggested.

The federation noted the federal government’s commitment to evacuating 20,000 at-risk Afghan refugees to Canada. The federation, while acknowledging the difficulty of evacuating individuals from Afghanistan, called on Canada’s government to resume its evacuation work or to cooperate with its international partners so that women judges and their families seeking to leave Afghanistan will be considered among the vulnerable people deserving of urgent help and protection.

A judiciary that is independent and free from interference or threat forms a cornerstone of the rule of law and requires the efforts and sacrifices of those committed to building it and helping it succeed daily, the federation said.

On Sept. 1, the launch of Lifeline Afghanistan by a non-partisan network of organizations and individuals was announced. The initiative seeks to mobilize Canadians to support the federal government’s goal to resettle Afghan refugees amid the humanitarian crisis.

Hila Taraky -- a Canadian-Afghan lawyer at Arfocus Legal and an associate practising business law and real estate and land development law at Agro Zaffiro LLP – co-founded Lifeline Afghanistan alongside Sally Armstrong, Wendy Cukier and Senator Ratna Omidvar. The Canadian Afghan Lawyers’ Association and the Diversity Institute in the Ted Rogers School of Management, among others, served as initial supporting organizations.

Canada should replicate its efforts during the Syrian refugee crisis, Taraky said in a news release. “Canada responded quickly and effectively to support Syrians, by determining that refugee status applies to the entire group, absent evidence to the contrary, streamlining processes, and investing in support on the ground in third countries to help move people quickly,” Taraky said.

Lifeline Afghanistan aims:

  • to increase awareness and engagement in sponsoring Afghan refugees
  • to curate resources and to link with organizations backing Afghan refugees through humanitarian relief, advocacy, settlement, service provision and research
  • to collaborate with sponsorship agreement holders and others to promote private sponsorship
  • to support skills assessment and trauma-informed approaches to skills development for economic and social inclusion
  • to push for evidence-based, innovative and collaborative approaches to supporting refugees

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