The Law Society says it is continuing to receive ‘desperate messages’ from judges and lawyers in Afghanistan and is urging the Home Office to open a new resettlement scheme immediately.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘We have received scores of desperate messages from people who dedicated their lives to building Afghanistan’s justice system and upholding the rule of law and are now in hiding with their families.
‘Judges, lawyers, prosecutors and others who worked in the justice system tell us they are receiving death threats from the Taliban and prisoners they helped convict - many of them terrorists - who are now roaming the country seeking revenge on those who brought them to justice.
‘Our Afghan colleagues are terrified, without work or money, and moving with their families from hiding place to hiding place in fear for their lives. These champions of justice tell us they feel abandoned by the international community, including the UK, with which they worked with so closely to establish law and order in pre-Taliban Afghanistan.’
The Society has been working closely with the government and international partners to assist in evacuating lawyers at risk. However, Boyce said it was unacceptable that the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme was still not open more than three months after Kabul fell.
‘Judges, lawyers, and prosecutors must be eligible for resettlement under this scheme and considered within the first 5,000 to be granted indefinite leave to remain under it,’ she added.
A government spokesperson said: ‘We undertook the UK’s biggest and fastest emergency evacuation in recent history, helping over 15,000 people to safety from Afghanistan who we are continuing to support. The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme is one of the most generous schemes in our country’s history and will give up to 20,000 further people at risk a new life in the UK. We continue to work at pace to open the scheme amid a complex and changing picture, working across government and with partners such as UNHCR to design the scheme.’
The Gazette understands that the scheme will not have an application process. Instead, like the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, eligible people will be prioritised and referred for resettlement to the UK.