Campaign launched to ‘save’ hundreds of Afghanistan prosecutors

Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor, addresses the media during the Prosecutors for Prosecutors Campaign announcement at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, Salt Lake City, July 27, 2023.

A coalition of US-based organizations has initiated a campaign with the aim of rescuing and relocating 1,500 Afghanistan prosecutors and their families, who are currently facing dire threats in Afghanistan and neighboring countries, according to a statement by the International Organization for Transitional Justice and Peace.

The group of organizations involved in the campaign includes the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA-US) and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the Afghan Prosecutors Association (APA-AF), the International Association of Prosecutors, the International Organization for Transitional Justice and Peace, the “No One Left Behind” organization, and the Afghan Evac Coalition.

Dubbed “Prosecutors for Prosecutors,” the campaign’s official announcement took place during a press conference held at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office on June 27.

The primary objective of this initiative is to raise $15 million, with the ultimate goal of saving the lives of Afghan prosecutors and ensuring their secure relocation to countries where they can continue their vital work safely, as stated by the International Organization for Transitional Justice and Peace.

The statement highlights the increasingly perilous situation for prosecutors from Afghanistan, with reports of the Taliban’s actions resulting in the torture and killing of 26 prosecutors or their relatives.

Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney, stressed the urgency of the situation, emphasizing the need to stand by their Afghan colleagues and ensure their safety. Jean Peters Baker, Jackson County Prosecutor, echoed this sentiment, stating that the prosecutors have devoted their lives to implementing a system based on American democracy, making it crucial to support them during this challenging time.

Before the fall of Kabul in August 2021, around 6,000 staff members of the Afghanistan Attorney General Office played essential roles in rule of law programs, prosecuting criminal cases involving high-profile members of the Taliban. However, since the fall, these prosecutors have found themselves in hiding, unemployed, and facing grave hardships, the statement said.

Despite their vital contributions to upholding justice and combating crime and terrorism, Afghan prosecutors do not qualify for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to the United States, and the processing time for other immigration programs may take years. Recognizing the urgency, the organizers of “Prosecutors for Prosecutors” are now focused on relocating these prosecutors to countries that continue to offer refuge to Afghan nationals.

The campaign has urged individuals, corporations, and organizations to join in a collective effort to raise the necessary $15 million which will be utilized by national and international organizations to rescue and support the prosecutors and their families, providing them with a lifeline amidst the perilous circumstances they face.

In essence, the “Prosecutors for Prosecutors” campaign represents a significant opportunity for the global community to stand together in solidarity and protect those who have risked everything to champion justice and the rule of law, the statement concluded.