Ensure protection of female judges in Afghanistan, urge global judges

The Global Judicial Integrity Network (GJIN), an international platform comprising judicial officers around the world have urged to ensure the protection of female judges in Afghanistan.

The Network which committed to strengthening the rule of law, judicial integrity and combating judicial corruption stated that “women judges (in Afghanistan) face an increased danger, not only due to their gender but also to the real risk of retaliation from the persons whom they have previously sentenced and who have been released from prison,”.

“Having regard to the recent events in Afghanistan, we, the members of the Advisory Board of the GJIN, express our deep concern over the escalating situation in Afghanistan and the possibility that the core values underpinning the work of our Network and the basic human rights of Afghan judges would be violated,” the Advisory Board of the GJIN, comprising of senior-most judges from different countries around the world stated.

The appeal from the network of judges comes in the wake of the serious concern expressed by the International Bar Association (IBA) and its Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) on Wednesday over the welfare of judges, lawyers and legal professionals in Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban.

The two legal bodies expressed concern for the fate of nearly 250 women judges in the country specially after two female judges working for the Afghan Supreme Court were shot dead in Kabul in January this year.

The IBA and IBAHRI had stated that the Judges who had tried and sentenced members of the Taliban are reported to be at particular risk, because to the Taliban it was generally unacceptable for women to sit in judgment over men. They said that the prosecutors and their families have also been reported as targets of Taliban reprisals.

The GJIN also urged the international community to engage in efforts to safeguard the human rights of Afghan judicial colleagues and called for urgent actions to protect women judges whose safety and lives are at risk and who might need assistance in leaving the country.

“It is of paramount importance that the achievements of women judges in Afghanistan in upholding the rule of law and access to justice, and the commitment and courage they have demonstrated over the years, be preserved and continued,” they said.

They further stated that in a situation of this gravity, they could not be silent; need to speak with one voice in support of their colleagues who need help.

“The international community cannot and must not abandon the women judges whose courageous efforts have contributed to securing and strengthening justice and the Rule of law in Afghanistan.”

The GJIN Advisory Board includes Adrian Saunders, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Dr Hassan bin Lahdan Alhassan Almohanadi, President of the Court of Cassation and the Supreme Judicial Council of the State of Qatar, Duro Sessa, President of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, and President of the Consultative Council of European Judges, Maria Thereza Moura, Justice of the Superior Court of Justice of Brazil, Zainun Ali, former Judge of the Federal Court of Malaysia, Lynne Leitch, Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Canada and Vice-President of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association, Kashim Zannah, Chief Judge of the High Court of Justice of Borno State in Nigeria, Jose Igreja Matos, Judge of the Court of Appeal of Porto in Portugal and President of the European Association of Judges, Diego Garcia-Sayan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and former President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Vanessa Ruiz, Senior Judge for the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, USA, and former President of the International Association of Women Judges, Mathilda Twomey, Judge of the Court of Appeal of Seychelles, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Seychelles and Dr Nihal Jayawickrama, Coordinator and Rapporteur of the Judicial Integrity Group (Sri Lanka).