Legal professional bodies are calling on the UK Government to offer practical help to professionals in Afghanistan who have attempted to uphold the rule of law and who are now believed to be at serious risk with the Taliban having taken power.

Women judges are feared to be a particular target for the militants who have seized control of the entire country over the past week.

The Bar Council, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales, and the Law Society of England & Wales have issued a joint statement on the situation, which reads:

"The Bar Council, the Bar Human Rights Committee of England & Wales, and the Law Society of England & Wales are gravely concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and the fate of all those who are working in the justice system of Afghanistan who are now facing a perilous future as the Taliban have taken power. We are extremely worried about the situation of at least 250 women judges in the country who we consider to be at particular risk. We urge the UK Government not to abandon these courageous defenders of the rule of law and – in liaison with its international allies – to offer evacuation and safety and asylum in the UK to those women judges, their families, and other members of the legal profession who are in serious danger."

Roddy Dunlop QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, tweeted that Faculty "adds its voice to that of @thebarcouncil and others regarding the appalling situation in Afghanistan. It urges the Government to act and to offer asylum to those now facing persecution for upholding the rule of law".