when he took As attorney general in 2016, Mohammad Farid Hamidi vowed to crack down on the corruption that had plagued Afghanistan’s political elite, including his new office. For several months, he spent his Monday meetings with any resident seeking legal advice, and earned a reputation as “thepublic prosecutor, And before resigning, he increased the number of women in his staff of 6,000 prosecutors from three percent to 23 percent. political pressure In early 2021.

But his biggest challenge came six months later, when the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan two years earlier this month. Since then, the Taliban have shut down the attorney general’s office and freed thousands of people detained, sending many former prosecutors into hiding. people target them helped convictAround 29 prosecutors have been murdered in the last two years, three of them in the last two weeks.

“They were released,” Hamidi said, adding that several people, including several Taliban members, were prosecuted by his office, “and they are looking for the prosecutors who prosecuted them.”

Hamidi has always tried to help his former colleagues; Last month, along with the US Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, or APA-US, he helped launch “Prosecutors for Prosecutors.” Campaign, which aims to provide security for 1,500 Afghan prosecutors and their families. APA-US and its Afghan counterparts, now working in exile, have partnered with several organizations to raise $15 million to fund NGOs that can relocate them to safer countries . Their partners include the Jewish Humanist Response. International Union of Prosecutorsand No One Left Behind, as well as many local district attorneys across the US

“They have stood shoulder to shoulder with the international community, the people of Afghanistan and the government of Afghanistan for law and justice in Afghanistan for the last 20 years,” Hamidi told The Intercept. “Withdrawal from Afghanistan should not be a withdrawal from all promises, from all moral obligations, from human rights obligations.”

over 1.6 million Afghans fled the country Over the past two years, with more than 100,000 resettled in the US in the chaotic weeks following the dramatic collapse of the former Afghan government, foreign states and international organizations helped evacuate the Afghans they worked with, and Prioritized those they deemed most at risk. These include women activists, human rights defenders and former government and military members.

No such priority group was created for Afghan prosecutors, who also did not qualify for the State Department’s special immigrant visa program, reserved for Afghans employed by the US government. While some prosecutors managed to escape due to personal ties, thousands were left behind.

Hamidi said the US authorities had no plan to evacuate the prosecutors, as they were doing. to goals Of attack For years “They knew that many people like the prosecutors would be in danger. And there was no plan or program to provide them any opportunity to join any of these categories, SIV, P-1, P-2,” he said, referring to priority refugee status for certain categories of vulnerable Afghans. Said.

None of this means anything to David Laban, president of APA-US, who helped train Afghan prosecutors. Laban told The Intercept, “Here are the prosecutors who put terrorists and drug traffickers in jail—who are now released from prison—and because they didn’t have a government contract card, they’re at the bottom of the list.” “It defies all logic.

“At the moment they are being hunted,” he added. “People who are begging for their lives and who feel completely abandoned.”

In this photo taken on October 2, 2017, Afghan Attorney General Farid Hamidi attends a meeting of petitioners at the Attorney General's Office in Kabul.  Since taking office in April 2016, Attorney General Farid Hamidi has been opening his doors to the public every October 28 in an effort to instill confidence in the law and root out corrupt officials.  Hamidi, a former member of the country's human rights commission, began welcoming the first of dozens of petitioners at his office at 8:00 a.m. / AFP PHOTO / Lawyer Kohsar / To go with 'Afghanistan-turbulence-justice-crime, focus' Allison Jackson (Photo credit should read Lawyer Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

Afghan Attorney General Mohammad Farid Hamidi attends a meeting of petitioners at the Attorney General’s Office on October 2, 2017 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Photo: Vakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

a continuing emergency

Hamidi was in America at the time of the fall of Kabul. He found out immediately That his years’ work would be destroyed, that he would not be able to return home, and that the lives of thousands of his associates would be in danger. As soon as the Taliban took over the capital, he began writing to all the international agencies that had worked with his office over the years, including the United Nations and the US Agency for International Development.

USAID and the US Embassy in Kabul funded her office’s initiative to train 250 female prosecutors, but now that the women are in hiding, they haven’t heard from them. “He funded this program and we implemented it. I sent the letter to USAID and mentioned it, but there was no response,” he said. “The American government, American institutions, the American people — they have a responsibility to support the people of Afghanistan and those who are in danger because of their work, their dedication to the law and justice.”

He insisted that the US government did “nothing” for him.

This is despite the fact that Afghan prosecutors were responsible for jailing thousands of Taliban members, as well as drug traffickers and members of other extremist groups and organized crime networks who helped finance the Taliban insurgency. Hamidi said that approximately 50,000 Taliban and Islamic State members were imprisoned between 2001 and 2021. “The fight against terrorism was in two main areas: one was on the battlefield, and the other was when the Taliban were arrested and handed over to the Attorney General. Office for investigation,” he said. “Many ministers, commanders, governors who are now in positions of power in the country were in prison at one point or another.”

When asked about Hamidi’s access to the US government, a State Department spokesperson wrote in an email to The Intercept that “the Biden-Harris administration continues to demonstrate its commitment to the brave Afghans who serve with the United States.” Were standing shoulder to shoulder. last two decades.” The spokeswoman said the agency does not comment on “who is in the refugee processing pipeline for privacy and security reasons”, but resettlement of eligible Afghans is one of its “top priorities”. USAID did not respond to a request for comment.

The plight of Afghans in the last two years in country And Outside It has largely dropped out of the news cycle as global shock has been replaced by fatigue and new conflicts in the resolution of the country’s problems. This apathy is in stark contrast to the sense of emergency that still dominates the lives of countless Afghans. APA-US is still fielding desperate pleas for help from dozens of former prosecutors in Afghanistan. Through its Afghan counterpart, the group compiled a verified list of 3,850 former prosecutors and other employees and shared it with US officials. But since there is no visa path available to them in the US, groups are looking to finance private efforts to relocate prosecutors and help them secure employment. Already, some US-based prosecutors have answered the call, Promise of help in relocation efforts and jobs For Afghan prosecutors arriving in the US

“People are getting killed, and no action is being taken, or limited action, by the people who should be taking action.”

For the time being, Laban emphasizes that this need is immediate and short-term.

“People are getting killed, and there is no action, or limited action, by the people who should be taking action,” he said. “What we’re trying to do right now is just get people to safety, get them food, and get them shelter, and then we can worry about the process of ultimately which country is going to protect them. “

Residents and security personnel stand at the scene after gunmen shot dead two Afghan female judges working for the Supreme Court in Kabul on January 17, 2021.  Gunmen shot and killed two Afghan female judges working for the Supreme Court in an early morning ambush.  The wave of murders continues in the nation's capital on January 17, officials said.  (Photo by Vakil Kohsar/AFP) (Photo by Vakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

Visuals after gunmen shot dead two Afghan female judges working for the Supreme Court in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 17, 2021.

Photo: Vakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

run away from a prosecutor

Nazia Mahmodi was one of the women Hamidi appointed to the Attorney General’s office. She was born before the US overthrew the Taliban in 2001 and remembers seeing the Taliban beating women in the street when she was a child. But she was part of a generation of Afghan women who grew up in a time of opportunity. He received a law degree from the American University of Afghanistan. When she was a student, she survived a Taliban attack that killed 16 of her classmates. Later, she became the chief prosecutor for crimes against women and survived other attacks near the prosecutor’s office. Their role included investigating crimes such as rape, battery, forced marriage and preventing a woman or girl from attending school or work. many of them were crimes criminal Under the US-backed former Afghan government, and the Taliban repealed the laws when they returned to power.

As the Taliban seized province after province two summers ago, when Mahmodi came home from work to find out which part of the country had fallen, his three-year-old son greeted him . Her friends and family urged her to leave Afghanistan, knowing she would be an immediate target. As the Taliban advanced on Kabul, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter, opting for an early C-section because she wasn’t sure she would be able to reach the hospital in time. Thousands of people her office had helped convict were being freed, and she began to have nightmares about them.

On 15 August she went into hiding. For 10 days, she tried to make sure her child didn’t speak too loudly because she feared he would be found and handed over to the Taliban. Meanwhile, she reached out to all her overseas contacts for help. Eventually, he received a call back and was told to go to the airport immediately, with instructions to show his phone to US special forces so they could identify him. His contact told him that the soldiers would fire into the crowd to disperse those around him, but that he should not run and keep walking towards them.

A few hours later, she was in Qatar with her children; She eventually settled in the US, where she enrolled to begin a graduate law program in the fall.

After leaving, she was able to garner international support for some of her colleagues to move the Attorney General’s Office’s Division to Eliminate Violence Against Women to Pakistan through a private sponsorship. But only women benefited from that initiative, and many remained in Afghanistan. They are struggling to survive without jobs in a country where more than 15 million people currently face food insecurity. Getting a passport is difficult, especially for those trying to hide their identity.

“They are in constant fear for their lives,” Mahmodi said. “They’re a target.”


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