A considerable number of exiled Afghan prosecutors and lawmakers on Monday gathered in Islamabad and urged the international community to help them resettle because they have fought criminals and sacrificed the most to protect democracy and human rights values over the past two decades in Afghanistan.
On May 5, these exiled prosecutors, lawmakers and civil society activists peacefully protested in Afghanistan Hotel in the capital city of Islamabad and called on UNHCR, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the international community to reconsider the dire situation and overwhelming uncertainty Afghan prosecutors are going through.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Pakistan has not yet initiated a common position regarding the legal status of the exiled Afghan prosecutor and lawmakers. Richard Bennett, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan and Margaret Steroid in their reports have clearly highlighted that employees of the judicial sector of the previous government including judges, prosecutors and lawyers as “a group at serious risk” under the Taliban-run administration.
It is also stated that not only prosecutors but also their family members are at grave risk of abduction, persecution and death threats by the ruling regime. This situation has been confirmed by Amnesty International and human rights organizations at the national and international levels, however, no decisive actions have been taken to help exiled the lawmakers to resettle in third countries.
However, the UNHCR has ignored these reports and dozens of other undeniable documents, all of which prove the overwhelming danger to the life and property of the prosecutors. “They deserve the international support more than any other group,” said a participating lawyer at the peaceful gathering.
Meanwhile, the UNHCR’s passive role in the legal status of Afghan refugees, civil society activists, in particular, is highly disappointing according to them. Currently, the UNHCR does not issue refugee certificates or cards to Afghan migrants for unknown reasons, complicating their situation as neither the European diplomatic missions nor Canadian or Australian Embassies accept humanitarian visa applications directly.
The UNHCR has prolonged assessing the exiled prosecutors’ asylum applications to the extent as no single civil society activist (prosecutor, lawyer, journalist) has been referred to any foreign embassy over the past year and a half, according to participants.
Therefore, the Association of Afghan Prosecutors in Pakistan once more urged the UN agencies (UNHCR, IOM) and the international community to protect the exiled civil society activists and resettle them in countries where they could live peacefully along with their family members.
Since the return of the Taliban to power in August 2021, thousands of layers, prosecutors and journalists fearing death threats from the Taliban, fled Afghanistan to the neighboring countries including Pakistan and Iran. With nearly two years since the late regime change, these exiled civil society activists are grappling with an unlimited number of issues including their legal status in the host countries.