A delegation led by Afghan Attorney General, Farid Hamidi, participated in the 21st Annual Conference of the International Association of Prosecutors in Dublin this month, with the support of IDLO.
Afghanistan emerged from Taliban rule in 2001 as an institutional wasteland. The justice deficit was acute, making the country a test case for law-based nation-building. Ever since, IDLO has been working with the Afghan government to drive judicial reform and foster the rule of law. And as Afghanistan takes charge of its own future, IDLO has been stepping up efforts to expand legal capacity and promote human rights. Advancing legal protection for women and combating gender violence have been among our priorities. IDLO has helped create an infrastructure of legal aid to victims, while supporting the prosecution of crimes against women and girls.
But Afghanistan remains a brittle post-conflict society. We have trained Afghan public defenders, empowered the poor to seek legal aid, and helped build legal resources in most of the country’s provinces. We have developed legal textbooks, reconstituted an entire pre-war body of lost law, and contributed to the establishment of a law library at the University of Kabul. Thousands of Afghan legal professionals – judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, MPs, civil servants and academics – are benefiting from this knowledge transfer.
Afghanistan has been an IDLO member party since November 2012.
The Upper House of the Afghan National Assembly has recognized the work of IDLO legal trainer and adviser Gul Ghutai Afzalyar with an award for her efforts to reform and clarify the Legislation for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (LEVAW) in Afghanistan.
After the brutal rape of a young woman in New Delhi in 2012, the issue of violence against women in India was thrust into the spotlight. The intensity of the national outcry in the aftermath led to the establishment of the Verna Committee, a governmental branch dedicated to addressing the issue of violence against women.
In a briefing at IDLO’s Headquarters in Rome, Member Parties heard from staff working in Afghanistan about the progress being made there in combatting violence against women. Field staff discusse
“International organizations in Afghanistan often try to reach their goals as if using a raft to cross a river.
I was facing a lot of problems …. my case was not addressed in court……I didn’t have the possibility of opening my own bank account ….. the money I was getting from sewing, knitting and cooking had to just be kept in the shelter’s office.
"Experience shows that there can be no gender equality unless women can access justice and dispense justice," IDLO Director of External Relations Judit Arenas has said at the launch of the GQUAL campaign for gender parity in international bodies.
Through its Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA) program, IDLO is working to improve access to justice through activities targeting legal aid, prosecution of crimes of violence against women, the effectiveness of Women’s Protection Centers, and legal awareness. This program is building on achievements of the INL-funded National Justice Sector Strategy (NJSS) Program.
Specific activities under the SAJA program include:
IDLO is supporting Afghanistan’s National Justice Sector Strategy to improve the quality and delivery of justice and legal services in line with constitutional, Shari’a and international standards. We have assisted in the development of various Afghan justice institutions and legal entities, including an Independent National Legal Training Center. We are also contributing to the Government’s strategy on legal awareness, while empowering the Afghan people through public campaigns on issues related to gender justice, violence against women, human rights, and the availability of legal services
Reducing violence against Afghan women and girls has been one of our priority areas of intervention. Although the Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (LEVAW) has been stuck in the Afghan parliament for years, the Attorney General’s Office in 2009 used the law's framework to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with IDLO. The aim was to support the creation of a specialized unit that would prosecute cases of gender violence.
In December 2006, IDLO assisted graduates from its Defense Lawyers Training in launching a nationwide Afghan movement to promote access to justice and legal awareness, and provide legal aid services to the poor. Ever since, IDLO has supported and improved legal aid in Afghanistan through training, technical assistance, monitoring, evaluation and financial support.
The weight of custom and the failings of the formal justice system mean most Afghans only access justice via informal dispute resolution mechanisms. With this in mind, IDLO has been assisting informal justice actors to perform their duties within basic legal standards and a human-rights positive framework.
Launched in March 2013 in partnership with the Afghan government, the Justice Training Transition Program (JTTP) offers justice professionals unprecedented levels of training in core legal skills and competencies. It provides continuing education courses on Afghan law to provincial courts, the Ministry of Justice and other government bodies. By far our most ambitious program anywhere, JTTP also provides criminal justice training and mentoring for Afghan prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys and investigators.