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Afghan Campaigners Press For Probe Into Alleged Prison Rapes By Judges, Prosecutors

File photo of Afghan women protest against a high-profile gang rape case in 2014.
File photo of Afghan women protest against a high-profile gang rape case in 2014.

Judges and prosecutors are associated with establishing the rule of law, protecting rights and freedoms, and ensuring a fair administration of justice.

In Afghanistan, however, scores of provincial judges and prosecutors are accused of raping female prisoners.

A recent report by the nongovernmental Rights and Social Justice Foundation accused 24 prosecutors and 17 judges of raping 35 female prisoners in five provinces across western Afghanistan.

Shamsuddin Shams, head of the organization, says prosecutors stormed their office in the western Afghanistan city of Herat after the report was made public on October 25.

"Our staff was threatened, and they attacked our office today, which forced us to move them to Kabul," Shams told Radio Free Afghanistan in the Afghan capital on October 26. "We have sent a copy of this report to the president and are waiting for the people accused in it to face justice."

He says the families of the victims have asked them to convey their quest for justice to the president. "But the perpetrators are still free," he said.

Kabul has so far refrained from commenting on the allegations. Despite repeated attempts, Radio Free Afghanistan was unable to get a reaction from the Afghan presidential palace.

Prosecutors and officials responsible for prisons in western Afghanistan, however, rejected and even condemned the report, calling it a conspiracy.

Samiuddin Raheen, a senior prosecutor in Herat's appeal court, says the accusations are a pack of lies. "The aim of these accusations is to malign the good name of judicial institutions."

Abdullah Azizi, the head of prisons in Herat, wants the issue to be investigated at the highest level. "I want these accusations to be investigated to the end. If this is not investigated fairly, I will resign from my job," he said.

In Kabul, human rights campaigners are calling on the authorities to swiftly investigate the accusations.

Lawyer and human rights campaigner Lal Gul Lal called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to seek capital punishment for perpetrators of the crime if they are found guilty.

Shamsullah Ahmadzai, a senior official of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, says the issue could earn Afghanistan a bad name internationally if Kabul fails to move quickly.

"Our government should not take this lightly. There are serious accusations, which, if true, violate our laws and all human, Islamic, and Afghan norms," he said.

Shahpur Saber contributed reporting from Herat. Nazifa Mahbubi and Asaddullah Ludin contributed reporting from Kabul.

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