At Cassels, we believe that we have a responsibility to other members of the legal community. Recently, the firm made a commitment to assist Afghan law firm Shajjan & Associates as members of that firm – who the Canadian government contracted with to represent our interests and our mission in Afghanistan – attempt to find refuge in Canada. We are particularly proud of the way that individuals across Cassels have rallied to support these important efforts.
Kristin Taylor, Carla Potter, and Ardy Mohajer have spoken with multiple media outlets about the urgency, the importance, and the frustrations experienced in trying to bring these professionals to safety.
Globe & Mail
A look at the lawyers and legal professionals who worked for the Canadian embassy in Kabul for more than a decade stand yet still remain without a path to Canada despite the efforts of the Canadian legal community. This report from The Globe and Mail highlights the despair of those left behind.
Read the article here. (Subscription required.)
In this article, those who worked for Shajjan & Associates describe their lives since the Taliban takeover, living in fear of retribution. While Canada vowed to resettle 40,000 refuges from Afghanistan, only 12,605 have arrived – including just 6,230 of those who assisted the Canadian government in Afghanistan. Saeeq Shajjan says he fears the Taliban is set to increase efforts to find those who helped foreign governments. “To this day, they are very much going after the security forces in Afghanistan to make sure that there is no armed resistance against them. Then definitely they’re going to come after lawyers, they will come after judges, they will come after civil rights activists.”
The Lawyer’s Daily
Carla Potter and Ardy Mohajer, alongside Hugh Meighen of BLG, authored an article outlining how the Canadian legal community came together in support of this important cause and outline the main objectives of their Open Letter to the Canadian government.
The Open Letter from 21 Canadian law firms calling on the federal government to step up their efforts to resettle vulnerable Afghans was recently referenced by Matt Galloway on The Current during an interview with Sean Fraser, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Carla Potter and Ardy Mohajer discussed the work Cassels has been putting into this with the CBA’s National Magazine. Says Ardy, “The entire firm is behind this, from the partners to the associates to legal assistants and articling students. It’s been five months since we started. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t expected some actual progress by this point. It’s disheartening.” The article also looks at the Open Letter signed by representatives of 21 Canadian law firms appealing to the federal government directly and calling on Ottawa to step up its own efforts. (Learn more about the Open Letter here.)
Kristin Taylor and Carla Potter spoke with Ingrid Burke Friedman of The JURIST about the efforts of the Canadian legal community to assist Afghan lawyers fleeing the Taliban. Says Carla: “We reached out to a number of other large law firms across Canada to seek assistance in our efforts, and to amplify our voice. There is understanding across the legal community of the danger these people are in, and the lack of progress.”
Kristin Taylor and Carla Potter spoke with the CBC’s Ellen Mauro on the frustrations in navigating the Canadian government while attempting to assist members of Shajjan & Associates to enter Canada from Afghanistan. As Carla notes in the piece, “We’re ensuring that we do everything we can for them. But certainly, as Canadians, we didn’t expect to be met with the level of frustration and red tape that we have been so far.”
Carla Potter also appeared on CBC Radio’s The Current with Matt Galloway alongside Saeeq Shajjan of Shajjan & Associates, providing more insight on the issues related to this matter, including the Canadian government’s promise to give asylum to 40,000 Afghan refugees with only one tenth of that number having entered Canada.
The Globe & Mail
Kristin Taylor spoke with The Globe and Mail’s Janice Dickson in an article published online on December 16 about the issues faced: “Ottawa Urged to Help Canada’s Lawyers Left Behind in Afghanistan.”
Read the full article here. (Subscription required.)
In a feature piece on CBC’s The National, Afghan Resettlement: Lawyers Left Behind, Kristin Taylor and Carla Potter voiced their frustration with leaving lawyers who worked for Canada behind to feel abandoned by this nation.