The International Organization for Transitional Justice and Peace (ITJP) said in a statement that 29 prosecutors from Afghanistan have either been killed or tortured by the Taliban or criminals freed from prison.
Citing reports by the US Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the ITJP said the prosecutors have “tragically fallen victim to murder or torture, either at the hands of the Taliban or criminals released by the Taliban.”
ITJP said it is committed to supporting and saving the lives of prosecutors in Afghanistan.
“ITJP fully endorses and supports ongoing efforts to meticulously document the alleged murders and torture of Afghan prosecutors and those in the justice system, with the ultimate aim of presenting these compelling cases before the International Criminal Court (ICC),” the statement read.
According to the ITJP, the Taliban were accused of murder and targeted assassinations of hundreds of prosecutors and members of the justice system before they took control of Afghanistan in 2021.
While acknowledging the US Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and partner organizations’ “diligent work” to document additional instances of alleged murders and torture, and to take statements from surviving witnesses, the ITJP called for a “comprehensive and verified documentation process”.
“ITJP stands ready to support all ongoing initiatives dedicated to bringing these cases and witnesses to the attention of the ICC,” the statement read.
The statement noted that US Congress has been asked to expand the Afghan Adjustment Act to include former prosecutors and justice system employees in Afghanistan.
In a letter to Congress, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said the US military has done “honorable work in proposing legislative language in the 2023 Afghan Adjustment Act that seeks to expand Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) protection to those who supported them and are now in grave danger.”
“We support their efforts and endorse their approach with the friendly amendment that SIV protection is extended to all justice sector personnel–including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and investigators; all those who did their duty facing the Taliban and other terrorists in courtrooms” the letter stated.
Yama Rayeen, Director of the ITJP and an advisory committee member, was meanwhile quoted in the statement as saying that the association’s Prosecutors for Prosecutors (PFP) Campaign, about relocating Afghanistan’s prosecutors, has established a task force and an advisory committee of experienced Afghan judicial officials.
“The PFP Campaign has established a dedicated task force and an advisory committee comprised of Afghans with experience in the previous Afghan justice system to provide valuable insights and counsel to the campaign’s management,” he said.
The ITJP’s statement said that the PFP Campaign extends an invitation to prosecutors across the US to rally behind their cause and contribute to the campaign to save the lives of Afghanistan’s prosecutors.
“Over 300 Afghans, including judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, human rights defenders, and journalists, have reached out to the campaign’s founding organizations, urgently appealing for assistance”, according to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.