Afghan women judges flee to UK

The group of three female judges, one male prosecutor along with their families arrived on Friday



FILE Image. People who have been evacuated from Afghanistan arrive at Melsbroek military airport. Photo: REUTERS
FILE Image. People who have been evacuated from Afghanistan arrive at Melsbroek military airport. Photo: REUTERS

By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Sun 14 Nov 2021, 5:07 PM

A group of Afghan women judges who were considered to be at risk under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan have arrived in the UK to start new lives, officials here announced on Saturday.

They said that under Taliban rule, female judges and others who stood up for women’s rights were persecuted and forced into hiding, and were at risk of reprisals from criminals they tried or sentenced and who have now been released from prison.

The group of three female judges, one male prosecutor along with their families arrived in the UK on Friday.

They were granted permission to come to the UK by Home Secretary Priti Patel during the recent evacuation under Operation Pitting and had support from the International Bar Association and the International Association of Women Judges.

UK judges will now work with the group to ensure they can use their legal skills to rebuild their careers in the UK, the officials said. In the past 20 years, nearly 270 women have sat as judges in Afghanistan.

Since the end of Operation Pitting in late August, the UK has helped more than 1,800 people, including British and Afghan nationals, to leave Afghanistan.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss said, “These brave people have been defending rights and freedoms of women in Afghanistan. The UK is a fierce champion of freedom and the rule of law, and ending violence suffered by women around the world is a personal priority for me. We will continue to do all we can to help at-risk Afghans leave the country”.

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Helena Kennedy of the International Bar Association added, “These women fought for human rights of all in Afghanistan and this work turned them into targets. Now they need our assistance. We hope that the families will be welcomed by their newly found local communities and will embrace their new lives - away from the threats that forced them to leave their lives behind and seek refuge away from home”.

The women judges arriving in the UK previously took part in a scheme that began in early 2021 organised by the UK Association of Women Judges and supported by the British Embassy in Kabul to provide Afghan judges with professional partnerships in the UK.


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