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Fearing Taliban, Afghan judges go in hiding

Judges are in hiding in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from prisoners they had previously put behind bars.

Three months ago, as judges and prosecutors, they put some of Afghanistan’s most infamous criminals and terrorists behind bars. But today they are forced to hide fearing retribution from those prisoners  who were freed by the Taliban when they captured the country.

"We are very fearful, terrified,” one former  judge told Bloomberg from his undisclosed location.

“I lost my job and now I can’t even go outside,” said another judge who is in hiding

Bloomberg shared a video clip  of some of these judges hiding in Afghanistan, after receiving threats from prisoners they had previously put behind bars.

Watch Video :

Since the Taliban released hundreds of prisoners, judges in Afghanistan are facing threats from those they sentenced.

Despite the insurgent group’s declaration of a general amnesty, many judges have not dared to emerge overground. So far, the Taliban have shown little respect for fundamental human rights — much less any inclination to adopt a system of checks and balances. In fact, the Taliban's Supreme Court has fired 2,000 judges from the previous government in Afghanistan and replaced them with religious scholars and muftis.

“A genocide of educated Afghans by the Taliban is going on, as hundreds of former government officials, intellectuals, judges, Salafi Muslims & members of their families are killed every day. The silence of the international  community is cruel & inhuman,” says Majeed Qarar, an Afghan analyst.

Situation is worse for more than 250 women judges who are under threat and in hiding, according to the International Association of Women Judges. Taliban officials have recovered their personal information from court records, several former judges said, and some have had their bank accounts frozen.

“The women judges of Afghanistan are under threat for applying the law. They have not only lost their jobs, but also live in a state of perpetual fear that they or their loved ones could be tracked down and killed,” says the statement issued by the International Association of Women Judges.

A Taliban spokesman, Bilal Karimi, said no decision had been made about a future role for female judges and lawyers.  But the legal professionals  say they have been effectively fired because it is too dangerous for them to continue their work, given the Taliban’s disapproval of women who sit in judgement of men.

Some female judges and lawyers have managed to escape Afghanistan.

Though, the Taliban spokesperson Karimi said that, “those people who are living in hiding, we are telling them that they should feel free, we won’t do anything to you.” But no one trusts the Taliban.

It is unclear how long the Taliban’s second stint in power will last. But  one thing seems certain—an  independent judiciary and the rule of law will remain even more elusive for the foreseeable future.

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