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Afghan bar chief pleads for international help as armed Taliban take over offices and displace leaders – JURIST

Chairman of the Independent Bar Association of Afghanistan, Rohullah Qarizada, took to Twitter on Wednesday call for international help after armed Taliban took control of the Association’s offices in Kabul. He said “fifty armed Taliban came to AIBA and forcibly took control of Bar”. The incursion came on Tuesday following a Taliban cabinet directive allowing the Justice Ministry to strip the AIBA of its attorney licensing authority and hand it over to the ministry.

Commenting on the takeover of the AIBA office, Qarizada insisted: “The bar is independent, non-governmental and apolitical. The Law Society has received no government funding.

A JURIST correspondent in Kabul said a letter from the Ministry of Justice to AIBA in Qarizada’s tweet refers to Taliban Cabinet Decision No. 10 dated November 14, 2021. According to the letter, the ministry of Justice should regulate AIBA-related matters, especially licensing. Our correspondent adds: “But the Cabinet decision says nothing about the structure of AIBA. The ministry interpreted the decision as authorizing it to integrate AIBA into its structure and asked lawyers to obtain licenses from them. The person appointed to head AIBA would be part of the Ministry of Justice but has no relevant experience.

The Afghanistan Independent Bar Association was established in 2008 with assistance from the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and previously received support from USAID. At last count, before the Taliban took over, the Association had more than 2,500 registered lawyers practicing in Afghan courts. According to the IBAHRI, the AIBA is “the only bar in the world to have a quota of women on all executive committees and at least one vice-president must be a woman”. At present, it is unclear what impact the “nationalization” of AIBA will have on women in the ranks of the Association’s leadership or membership.