Members of the Canadian legal community are concerned for the safety of lawyers, judges, and other Afghan legal professionals under the Taliban regime. This includes individuals who are now at risk because of their assistance to the Government of Canada in Afghanistan in a significant and enduring way.
Afghans who publicly worked with Canada are now being targeted by the Taliban, forcing them to go into hiding or in constant migration to avoid danger. The looming threat of the Taliban for these individuals has been verified by representatives of the Department of Justice and the Embassy of Canada. One such individual is Saeeq Shajjan, a Harvard educated lawyer who publicly represented Canada before local courts and advised Canada on matters of local Afghan law impacting Canada’s operations in Afghanistan. Mr. Shajjan was threatened under the Taliban regime and escaped Kabul in August 2021. He is now assisting his firm members and others in the legal community in Afghanistan who also publicly represented Canada and are now at risk.
Canada can help these individuals by assisting their immigration to Canada. There is currently a backlog in the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) system and hundreds of thousands of individuals are awaiting an assessment from IRCC under the Special Immigration Measures to Resettle Afghan Citizens who supported Canada’s mission to Afghanistan (SIM Program).The Government of Canada needs to allocate even further resources to identifying individuals that are eligible under the SIM Program and in processing their applications, such as the those in the legal community who assisted Canada in Afghanistan.
Given the imminent danger, time is of the essence to ensure the IRCC and SIM Program operate to its fullest potential in assisting individuals escape a life-threatening predicament in Afghanistan because of the work they did for the Government of Canada.