The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is deeply concerned about the risks to women judges and their families in Afghanistan due to the takeover of that country by the Taliban.
An independent judiciary, free from interference or threat, is a cornerstone of the Rule of Law.
The existence of that institution in any viable, democratic society is made possible by the efforts and sacrifices of the women and men who are devoted to building it and ensuring its success on a daily basis. Recent news reports suggest that many individuals who have invested in the successful administration of justice in Afghanistan, be they judges, lawyers, or other justice system stakeholders, are under threat. Such reports also underscore that women in the judiciary in Afghanistan are at particular risk arising directly from their efforts to build a fair and effective judicial branch as part of a legal system that comports with international norms.
The approximately 270 women judges faced serious threats even before the recent fall of the elected Afghan government. Those threats have been greatly intensified since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, and developments in recent days indicate a rapidly deteriorating situation. We note the commitment of the Canadian government to bring 20,000 at risk Afghanis to Canada. We recognize that evacuating people from Afghanistan is very difficult, but we urge the Canadian government to do everything it can, whether by resuming its evacuation efforts or by working with its international partners, to ensure that Afghan women judges and their families who wish to leave the country are counted among the vulnerable individuals who are worthy of urgent assistance and protection.
The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is the national coordinating body of the 14 law societies which are mandated by provincial and territorial law to regulate Canada’s 126,400 lawyers, Quebec’s 3,800 notaries and Ontario’s 12,700 licensed paralegals in the public interest.