Facing Grave Risks, Afghan Prosecutors Plead for Global Solidarity and Protection

Hundreds of Afghan prosecutors who received training over the last two decades from international law and justice organizations now face severe risks of retaliation and violence due to the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.

“Within a few days of the Taliban taking over, I received several threatening calls from criminals they released from prison,” said Mahwash,* a woman prosecutor who ultimately fled Afghanistan, taking sanctuary in the US. “I was imprisoned at home for two months in fear and terror until we were transferred to Abu Dhabi by the body of 14 lawyers with a number of other prosecutors, judges, and defense lawyers. From there, some of us were transferred to the US and some to European countries,” she said. Threats were not new to Mahwash; during her 16-year tenure as attorney general in the western province of Herat, she interrogated numerous criminals, including members of the Taliban, who were prosecuted for various acts of violence, such as bombings on cities, roads, bridges, and highways. In fact, threats she faced ahead of the collapse of the prior Afghan government initially compelled her to leave Herat for a position in the Attorney General’s Office in Kabul Province.

Mahwash’s career had flourished in the years between Taliban regimes. Over the past two decades, as the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was established, international and private organizations worked tirelessly and invested significantly in promoting education for men and women alike at school and university levels, and in advocating for human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, freedom of speech, and democracy. In alignment with the constitution and international norms, numerous laws and legal procedures were enacted with the assistance of international and national legal scholars and practitioners, contributing to the modernization of the legal system and the development of institutional reforms. Thousands of young, educated individuals, both men and women, joined the legal and judicial systems, receiving extensive academic legal education and invaluable experience, including visits to foreign countries to learn from different legal systems.

With the Taliban regaining power in Afghanistan, all the progress achieved over the last twenty years has been nullified. Prosecutors, as defined by the former Afghan government’s constitution, held the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting all criminal cases. Although part of the executive branch, they operated independently in accordance with the constitution, investigating individuals suspected of committing crimes, including high-ranking government officials.



Facing Grave Risks, Afghan Prosecutors Plead for Global Solidarity and Protection