Bar Association calls for protection of Afghan women judges

The New Zealand Bar Association is backing calls from the International Association of Women  Judges (IAWJ) President, Justice Susan Glazebrook, for the New Zealand Government to help secure  safe passage and refuge for Afghan women judges and their families. The judges are facing grave  danger following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.  

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Susan Struck
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Susan Struck

Bar Association President, Paul Radich QC, echoes the IAWJ’s concerns about the particular  

vulnerability of the 250 women judges in Afghanistan. “While all judges in that country are at risk,  we have clear evidence that women judges are particularly vulnerable. Earlier this year two women  judges were assassinated on their way to court. They were clearly targeted. The IAWJ reports that  judges are even now receiving threats along the lines of ‘where will you hide now?’”

The Bar Association says that it is important for the maintenance of the rule of law that the  

international community supports these judges by offering safe passage out of Afghanistan for them  and their families. New Zealand should work with its partners involved in the Afghan evacuation to  ensure that this occurs. “Judges in many places around the world risk harm by doing their jobs.  They need to know that the international community will help support them if the need arises.” 

The Bar Association believes that an urgent response might include widening evacuation support  from Afghanistan to those who are particularly vulnerable to attack. In addition, the Government  could look at expediting visas, and providing relocation and resettlement for those who need it.  There should also be an immediate pause on the deportation of people to Afghanistan. 

Mr Radich emphasises the need to step up as part of a humanitarian approach, as well as a  

commitment to world order. “These judges took up the call to serve their country and their  

communities. They did this with the assurance that they would be supported by the international intervention in Afghanistan. The international community cannot now abandon them.”

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