Hundreds of Afghan prosecutors who received training from international law and justice organizations over the past two decades now face severe risks of retaliation and violence following the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s takeover has led to threats and intimidation against these prosecutors, putting their lives in danger.
Mahwash, a woman prosecutor who fled Afghanistan and sought sanctuary in the US, revealed that she received threatening calls from criminals released by the Taliban shortly after their takeover. She and other prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers were eventually transferred to Abu Dhabi and then to the US and European countries for their safety.
During her tenure as attorney general in Herat, Mahwash interrogated numerous criminals, including Taliban members involved in acts of violence such as bombings. Threats against her initially prompted her to move to Kabul Province. However, with the Taliban’s resurgence, all the progress made in promoting education, human rights, and democracy over the past two decades has been nullified.
Afghan prosecutors, defined by the former government’s constitution, were responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal cases independently. They dealt with a wide range of crimes, including suicide bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. However, with the Taliban’s return, their safety is now at risk.
Last year, UN-appointed human rights experts warned that the collapse of the rule of law and judicial independence in Afghanistan constituted a human rights catastrophe. Prosecutors who previously investigated and prosecuted Taliban members now fear for their safety.
A group of US-based organizations has launched a campaign called “Rescue Afghan Prosecutors” to support and relocate 1,500 Afghan prosecutors and their families who face threats in Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The aim is to provide aid and assistance to these prosecutors, who were trained to uphold the rule of law, as they navigate security threats and poverty.
Afghan prosecutors are appealing to their international counterparts for support, emphasizing the need to ensure truth and justice prevail in these challenging times. The campaign aims to prevent these prosecutors from being hunted and killed by providing them with the necessary support and relocation opportunities.