UCI Law’s International Justice Clinic Launches Afghanistan Human Rights Project


IRVINE, Calif. (Aug. 18, 2022) — The University of California, Irvine School of Law (UCI Law) is pleased to announce the launch of the Afghanistan Human Rights Project, an initiative of UCI Law’s International Justice Clinic (IJC). Marking one year after the Taliban swept through Afghanistan and replaced its elected government, this important project will monitor and advocate for action to address Afghanistan’s grave and deteriorating human rights situation.

Under the direction of Clinical Professor of Law and IJC Clinic Director David Kaye, Hashmat Nadirpor — lawyer and rule of law expert from Afghanistan — will lead the project. Nadirpor joined UCI Law through the University’s Scholars at Risk Program. The Afghanistan Human Rights Project will publicly post its findings and advocacy, including its first research note published today, focusing on the Taliban’s use of arbitrary detention in serious violation of its obligations under human rights law.

“One year after the Taliban takeover, life in Afghanistan is getting far more difficult as ordinary citizens are being denied their fundamental human rights,” said Nadirpor. “Basic human rights of citizens such as the right to life and liberty, the right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, the right to fair trial and presumption of innocence are hugely violated by the Taliban authorities.

“The situation is particularly worse for women,” continued Nadirpor. “Women living in Afghanistan are suffering from a systematic discriminatory violation of their human rights. The Taliban authorities have denied women the right to education, the right to work, freedom of movement, and the right to healthcare. Women are not allowed to take employment in many fields, to travel or appear in public without a male relative and to receive secondary education.”

“The situation in Afghanistan is obviously grave,” stated Kaye. “It poses serious questions for Afghans, like Hashmat and others like him who have been forced to leave the country. Namely, how do human rights defenders do their work from outside the country, when the country is led by a government staunchly opposed to basic human rights? We will be monitoring the situation but also seeking to develop approaches to fact finding and advocacy in this complicated context.”

“Last year, when it became clear that lawyers and scholars from Afghanistan would need a place in exile to continue their work, the UCI community came together to raise the funding to enable people like Hashmat Nadirpor to come to UCI,” said Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law Austen Parrish. “We are glad that UCI law students will have an opportunity to contribute to this work through fact finding, reporting and other work to identify ways to advance human rights in Afghanistan.”

“Religious and ethnic minorities are also very much in danger,” added Nadirpor. “These groups have been attacked in places of worship, schools and in public transportation vehicles. The Taliban have been unable or unwilling to protect them and uphold their basic rights to life and personal security. We hope to draw attention to their plight as well.”

Nadirpor noted how, in recent months, the international human rights community has highlighted the gravity of the situation. Human Rights Watch has called the Taliban’s one-year rule “catastrophic” and stated that the Taliban reneged multiple promises to respect human rights and women’s rights. In the first ten months of the Taliban’s de facto government, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has recorded hundreds of human rights violations namely, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest and detention, incommunicado detention, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, excessive use of force and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments. The Taliban authorities — these organizations and others have shown — are specifically targeting journalists and media workers, members of civil society and human rights defenders, women activists, former government officials, members of former national security forces and individuals accused of affiliation with armed groups.

“Afghanistan has acceded to a number of international human rights law instruments that guarantees fundamental rights,” Nadirpor concluded. “The Taliban has the responsibility to meet its international obligations and to protect fundamental human rights of all Afghans. In the meantime, the international community should also closely monitor the situation and put pressure on the Taliban to uphold Afghanistan’s international obligations. This is what we hope to help governments and non-governmental organizations globally achieve.”

About the International Justice Clinic

The International Justice Clinic at the University of California, Irvine School of Law seeks to advance human rights norms and protections and integrate them at national, regional, international and corporate levels—all while training the next generation of human rights lawyers. Directed by Professor David Kaye, former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, the clinic has extensive experience addressing threats to human rights, particularly in the digital realm. The clinic works alongside civil society organizations and other stakeholders from across the globe and emphasizes a multi-faceted approach to human rights advocacy.

Our students work on every aspect of the clinic’s projects. They conduct international legal research, engage in on-the-ground fact finding, hold interviews in cross-cultural settings, prepare written analyses, give formal presentations to governmental bodies, build multi-stakeholder coalitions, draft litigation briefs and policy documents and much more.

The clinic seeks to integrate marginalized and underrepresented voices and perspectives throughout our work.

About the University of California, Irvine School of Law

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is a top, visionary law school that provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, prioritizes public service, and demonstrates a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 135,000 hours of pro bono work since 2009. Forty-eight percent of UCI Law's J.D. graduates are people of color. At UCI Law, we are driven to improve our local, national, and global communities by grappling with important issues as scholars, as practitioners, and as teachers who are preparing the next generation of leaders. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff, engaged alumni and enthusiastic supporters. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter @UCILaw, Facebook @UCIrvineLaw and Instagram @ucilaw.

Media Contact:
Stephanie Wilner
Communications and PR Manager