Attacked from two sides: Afghan prosecutors remain at risk

Kabul Luftbrücke

19. June 2023- 3 min read

Ahmad: Von zwei Seiten angegriffen: Afghanische Staatsanwälte bleiben in Gefahr

The suspension of the transfers and processing of German visas for those accepted by the German Government has cut a lifeline to Afghans at risk. Once again, Afghans find themselves let down by the international community, abandoned in fear and limbo.

Jurists are particularly at risk. Targeted by the Taliban and targeted by the right-wing German media, the German Government needs to guarantee their protection.

Ahmad* is a well-known prosecutor who received admission to Germany for the risk he faces having investigated and prosecuted public security crimes. He studied law at the undergraduate level and has a postgraduate degree in criminology. After completing his studies, Ahmad went on to work as a prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office for over 15 years.

Judges and prosecutors attacked by the Taliban

Appearing in many trials against serious criminals and investigating in prisons was extremely dangerous, even before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021. Now jurists face more extreme persecution and targeting, Ahmad explains.

“I think judges and prosecutors are two groups at highest risk for their work implementing the rule of law… Taliban have tried to arrest me many times.”

“I investigated and prosecuted many criminals who are members of the Taliban… The Taliban got to know my face… They killed many prosecutors before the fall and are continuing to persecute us now but now we have no protection. They are the government.”

Unable to work, Ahmad sold his home to feed his family and pay for Iranian visas. Travelling to the German Embassy in Iran was his escape route to safety. But Ahmad cannot travel to Germany. In March 2023, the German Government announced a suspension of the transfers and visa processing for Afghans with admission to Germany.

“The news of the halt on issuing German visas has created a lot of desperation and fear for us. Taliban are searching for people with German admission. They arrested my colleague, and we don’t know if he is still alive.” In addition to arrests, in recent weeks it is reported that two former judges were killed by the Taliban.

Attacked by the German Right Wing

Following a spate of false right-wing media stories against Afghan jurists, their cases are facing additional scrutiny by the Government. These headline-grabbing lies impact some of the most vulnerable Afghans. Ahmad’s case is one of those being further scrutinized without explanation.

“I don’t know what the problem is or why they are reviewing our case again, but it has created more difficulties and complexities for us”

“NGOs who should normally support us cannot as they have to wait for the Government to finalise their decision again” explains Ahmad. This means even when the programme resumes, Ahmad will remain in limbo, and he is without any support until his case is reviewed.  

Difficulties mount as federal admission programme is paused

In recent days and after the arrest of his colleague, Ahmad fled to Iran to survive. His wife, who is heavily pregnant, and their children accompany him. They are struggling to feed themselves, staying with trusted friends in hiding and waiting nervously.

Ahmad and his family face new hurdles. He is concerned about where his new child will be born and that German visas will only be issued from the Embassy in Pakistan after the programme resumes.

“Now the German embassy in Iran won’t issue us visas [when the programme resumes] the situation becomes more difficult… [travelling via Iran] is easier for many people from provinces of Afghanistan and cheaper than going to Pakistan”.

This accomplished prosecutor continues to fight for himself and his family’s survival. He dreams of reaching safety and living his life again. “My goal is to become exactly like a German… I want to work in my field. I want to become a lawyer in Germany as well and serve the community.” Ahmad’s dreams seem far away from becoming a reality right any time soon.