UN Experts: the Taliban’s judicial system is a human rights “catastrophe”

The UN experts have criticised the Taliban’s Sharia-based judicial system in a joint statement, calling it non-independent, masculine, and a “human rights catastrophe”.

Special Rapporteurs, Margaret Satterthwaite, on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Richard Bennett, on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan, said in a joint statement that “Lawyers, judges, prosecutors and other actors involved with the legal system in Afghanistan face grave risks to their safety, and lawyers still practicing must navigate a deeply challenging, non-independent legal system”

The experts said they were concerned that the absence of criminal and civil laws in Afghanistan imposes severe difficulties on the people, especially Afghan women. 

“We are gravely concerned by the extreme exclusion of women from the legal system.” the UN experts underscored, “Many women judges have fled the country or gone into hiding,” they added. 

They called on the Taliban to “immediately reverse” its abusive approach and protect the lives of those working in the legal system.

The UN experts further emphasized the responsibility of governments and related actors to support the people facing difficulties, saying that “International actors should provide protection and safe passage to lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and other actors involved with the legal system, especially women, who are at risk of reprisal and attacks by the Taliban and others.”