IBAHRI condemns the killing of two Afghan Supreme Court judges

Tuesday 26 January 2021

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) condemns the assassination of two judges from Afghanistan’s Supreme Court on 17 January 2021, calling the criminal act an affront to the rule of law.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996 – 2006), the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘The tragic killing of the two Supreme Court judges is outrageous. The crime, perpetrated as the two judges were on their way to carry out their professional responsibilities, shows a total disregard for human life and the rule of law. The killing strikes at the heart of the rule of law that is essential if all persons in Afghanistan are to be respected and protected under the law. Such attacks on the independence of the Afghan legal system must not be tolerated. Work must be done to ensure the transparent and effective delivery of justice in Afghanistan of which independent judges are a vital component. In this respect we draw attention to the United Nations Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary and the IBA Minimum Standards of Judicial Independence, both important international instruments. Those responsible for the brutal killings should be brought to justice. The families of the judges should be honoured and supported.’

The assassination of the two women judges – whose identities have not been revealed – took place while they were travelling in a court vehicle to their office in the Afghan capital, Kabul. It is the latest attack to take place in Kabul while peace talks between Taliban and Afghan governments are underway in Qatar. Government officials, journalists and activists have all been targeted in recent months. At the time of writing, no one has claimed responsibility for this attack, and a spokesman for the Taliban said its fighters were not involved. Meanwhile, the President of Afghanistan, Mr Ashraf Ghani, issued a statement condemning attacks on civilians by the Taliban, declaring that ‘terror, horror and crime’ were not the solution to the country’s problems, and urged the Taliban to accept ‘a permanent ceasefire’.

IBAHRI Co-Chair and immediate past Secretary-General of the Swedish Bar Association, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, commented: ‘The murder of the two judges highlights the lengths to which people will go to thwart the independence of a nascent legal system and the aspirations of women in a steadfastly patriarchal society. The IBAHRI understands the pressures faced by the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and applauds the bravery of its members. Despite the many challenges, it is imperative that Afghanistan’s legal profession maintains its independence, so that in the future, judges, lawyers and other legal professionals will be able to carry out their professional duties without interference, intimidation or the threat of – or actual – violence heaped upon them.’


Notes to the Editor

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  2. The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), established in 1995 under Founding Honorary President Nelson Mandela, is an autonomous and financially independent entity, working to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.
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  4. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.
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Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
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