Fighting for the safety of legal professionals in Afghanistan
We're gravely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan, and particularly the perilous future faced by those that work in the justice system.
We’re doing everything we can to stand alongside our fellow lawyers by supporting efforts that will lead to their safe evacuation and sanctuary.
British nationals who remain in Afghanistan can register with the Foreign Office (FCDO) for important updates.
The UK Embassy in Kabul has temporarily closed, but British nationals can contact FCDO consular officers on +44 (0) 1908 516666 (or 01908 516666 in the UK).
Full consular services remain available at Embassies and High Commissions in neighbouring countries.
Afghan nationals, including family members of a British national, who do not already have a right of entry to or abode in the UK, will need to apply for a visa to come to the UK to study, work, visit or join family. Anyone in Afghanistan who wishes to make a UK visa application will have to submit biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) in a Visa Application Centre in a third country to complete an application.
Afghan nationals with a right to come to the UK
There are two schemes for relocation to the UK.
1. Afghanistan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP)
Locally employed staff who worked for and alongside the UK government in Afghanistan can apply for inclusion in this programme.
2. The Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS)
The scheme is not yet open but we encourage individuals to check GOV.UK for the latest information.
Getting legal advice
If you're a member of the public with relatives in Afghanistan, you can find a solicitor specialising in immigration and asylum to provide legal advice. You can also discover how you can access free legal advice if you need it.
The rule of law is the bedrock of any functioning society. It’s essential that all those that work to safeguard fundamental freedoms – lawyers, judges and all those working in the justice system – can live and carry out their professional duties independently, without fear of intimidation or threats to their safety.
As the situation in Afghanistan continues to evolve, we have:
- stressed at the highest levels of the UK government the perilous situation faced by legal professionals in the country; we’re especially concerned for the safety of 270 women judges and 170 women lawyers and prosecutors
- called on the UK government to ensure that lawyers, judges and those that have worked to safeguard the rule of law are included in the resettlement scheme or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) – however, we’re concerned that the current target to offer sanctuary in the UK to Afghans in the first year of the scheme will not be sufficient to protect all those in imminent danger
- supported efforts to immediately evacuate women judges, prosecutors and lawyers, by sharing information and details with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
- urged a rethinking of the travel and entry requirements for Afghan citizens seeking safety in the UK
We continue to be in contact with, and work alongside, a wide range of interested parties to promote the safety of legal professionals in Afghanistan. This includes UK government and parliament, the United Nations, the bars of the G7, and various non-governmental organisations.
We’ll continue to monitor this rapidly changing situation, providing recommendations to the government based on the expertise and information from members and the wider international legal community.
Stay up to date
Find out more
Read our joint statements:
- with the G7 bar leaders, urging governments to protect those at risk in Afghanistan, including women judges and lawyers
- for the UN Human Rights Council, requesting an international fact-finding mechanism to support prosecution of human rights violations, together with Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada and the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute
If you're a solicitor, find out how you can provide pro bono advice to Afghan citizens seeking asylum. DLA Piper has shared guidelines for immigration lawyers wishing to offer pro bono advice to Afghan applicants.