On June 17 the Italian government, renewed its support to IDLO’s efforts in Afghan justice sector reform by approving a contribution of 1,500,000 EURO. This contribution is the fifth one to IDLO legal and judicial reform programs in Afghanistan and represents a natural continuation of Italy’s long standing commitment to rebuilding the justice sector in Afghanistan.
The London Conference on Afghanistan held in January 2010, reaffirmed the international community’s long-term commitment to Afghanistan with the aim to pave the way to an increased Afghan ownership. IDLO’s program ‘Supporting the National Justice Sector Strategy of Afghanistan – Improving Security, Legal Rights and Legal Services for the Afghan People’, is completely in line with this principle. IDLO has built a strong team of Afghan legal professionals who steadily increased their amount of responsibility in delivering IDLO programs. The percentage of trainings conducted by Afghans went from 38% in 2006, to 61% in 2007, to 91% in 2008, to 100% in 2009.
IDLO’s current program aims to support legal education; to increase the number of female legal professionals; to expand legal aid services to the poor and disempowered; and to support the establishment of a specialized unit to prosecute crimes of violence against women.
Violence against women in Afghanistan is a deeply rooted problem. It includes rape, “honor” killings, forced and child marriage and domestic violence. Crimes of violence against women have not always been prosecuted for violating the law.
Recognizing the need for a concentrated effort to investigate and prosecute these crimes, the Attorney General’s Office of Afghanistan partnered with IDLO in 2009 to create a Violence against Women Unit, officially launched in March 2010, which includes specially selected and trained prosecutors. During the first three months of activity, seventy-two cases have been referred; the first two have gone to trial and resulted in convictions. Through such successful prosecutions, not only is justice delivered but also attitudes begin to change. Based on this success, and thanks to the Italian Government support, IDLO is now assisting the Attorney General in developing the first regional office for the Unit in the province of Herat.