Help Afghans now

  • March 30, 2022

The President of the Canadian Bar Association, Stephen Rotstein, wrote to Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, Justice Minister David Lametti and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino to urge them to fulfill its promise to resettle 40,000 Afghan nationals in Canada, particularly those lawyers, judges and other individuals who share Canada’s commitment to justice, democracy and the rule of law.

The CBA President’s letter echoes a similar letter co-signed by 21 Canadian law firms as well as another missing from the Honourable Irwin Cotler, the Honourable Allan Rock, and 11 representative organizations for lawyers, judges, and advocates across Canada and internationally, both urging the Canadian government to make good on its promise to Afghans.

Rotstein notes there are no longer any independent judiciary or bar in Afghanistan. The Taliban is now in control of the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association, or AIBA, including the personal information of lawyers, staff and committee members and all assets belonging to the AIBA.

Worse, Rotstein writes, “Afghan women judges and prosecutors still trapped in the country are hunted by criminals they prosecuted or imprisoned and by organized Taliban raids. Some have escaped to temporary, ill-equipped conditions in other countries.”

Lawyers from the CBA Immigration Law Section are spearheading an initiative to provide services, at no charge, to individuals affected by the crisis in Afghanistan. Those services include legal consultation and advice for those who seek to take advantage of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s programs to bring eligible Afghans to Canada. A dozen lawyers are listed on the initiative’s web page, offering services in Farsi, Dari and Pashto.

The government of Canada committed to bringing as many as 40,000 Afghan nationals to Canada. We have previously outlined to Minister Fraser several practical solutions to speed up the process for bringing Afghans to Canada.

“The urgency to act is without precedent,” Rotstein says.