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.
The revised Afghan Penal Code entered into force in February 2018. This called for an urgent need to build the capacity of justice professionals to handle cases in compliance with the revised Code. In response, the Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office and Ministry of Justice turned to their nascent professional training departments. However, the maturity, capacity and resources of the departments vary, and extra support is required to enable them to deliver the task effectively.
As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Final Evaluation Brief (summarised evaluation report): “Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA)”. The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by
As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Mid-Term Evaluation Brief (summarised evaluation report): “Supporting Access to Justice in Afghanistan (SAJA)”. The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit.
Despite significant donor assistance and a marked improvement over the past decade, Afghanistan's justice institutions still suffer from a severe lack of capacity across a range of basic competencies. These deficiencies persist due to a variety of factors, including the high turnover of staff in justice sector institutions and a lack of focus on developing the internal capacity of institutions to manage their own professional development.
While the justice sector in Afghanistan has progressed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, legal awareness and access to justice throughout the country are still lagging behind. A 2016 World Justice Project report found that only 23 per cent of Afghan citizens used the formal justice system to settle disputes, and less than half reported to have trust in the state courts. As a result, and combined with the pressure of social norms, potential justice users, particularly women, are deterred from using the formal system and are often unable to obtain fair remedies for grievances
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.