The letter that was sent by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, with relation to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), contains a number of factual errors and speculative assertions based on incorrect or incomplete information. IDLO, the only inter-governmental organization with a mandate solely devoted to the promotion of the rule of law, has a proven track record in successfully delivering rule of law programs in Afghanistan, as well as in other parts of the world, on time and within budget. Our monitoring and evaluation procedures are robust and extensive. We take the transparency, effective delivery of our work, and responsible use of tax-payer dollars very seriously. INL’s “sole source award” to IDLO does not appear to contain basic provisions to allow proper monitoring and evaluation of the project.” We refute this statement as it does not match with the facts.
- The U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) approached IDLO last year about partnering on a critical project to oversee the transition of donor-led legal training to the Afghan government. During the negotiation phase, INL noted that they would make this donation to IDLO via a bilateral Letter of Agreement incorporating project documents. Both IDLO and INL focused on including robust oversight, monitoring, and evaluation provisions during the program design phase into those documents.
- The budget is subject to detailed review by INL, and IDLO is required to submit detailed explanations of proposed budget expenditure.
- IDLO and INL have agreed that the program can be audited by an independent third party at any time, at the request of INL.
- Monitoring and evaluation measures include: (1) weekly conference calls between INL/Washington DC, IDLO/Rome, and IDLO/Afghanistan (with more frequent meetings and conversations by the Program Manager and INL in Kabul); (2) bi-weekly program and activity reports; (3) monthly activity reports using a format provided by INL; (4) quarterly program reports including a financial report; (5) a mid-term 3rd party assessment; and (6) three separate completion reports, including a final program evaluation.
“Preliminary information gathered by SIGAR auditors suggests that IDLO is ill-prepared to manage and account for how U.S.-tax payer funds will be spent on the JTTP.” SIGAR has provided no evidence to support this allegation and we strongly refute it as factually incorrect.
- IDLO has a 30-year history of providing legal training to over 25,000 people from the developing world, and has been working in Afghanistan since 2002.
- IDLO has been implementing the Justice Training Transition Program (JTTP) since January 2013 and we have successfully delivered according to the timetable and targets set in the program, despite the deteriorating security situation where courts and court officials in Afghanistan have been attacked.
- We have trained 700 participants since the start of the year in 16 provinces.
- We have been able to access and train people in high-risk provinces where other organizations or private contractors have not been able to go due to the high security risk.
- A key indicator of how we manage our projects is the impact they have on the ground – we have both statistical and anecdotal evidence of the benefit to Afghans, especially women.
Just two concrete examples:
- A defense attorney mentored by JTTP recently won an acquittal in the case of a woman charged with running away. She had left home to marry the man of her choice, but her father objected and reported her daughter to the police. Mr. Abdul Majeed Azimi was assigned to the case. JTTP mentoring helped him develop a three-part defense, which resulted in the woman being acquitted.
- A judge, who recently undertook JTTP training, presided over a family violence case in which the victim accused her husband of physical abuse. The judge used the knowledge gained in his training module on Corroborating Evidence and sentenced the defendant to prison.
“IDLO’s budget has declined in recent years, even as its portfolio of projects has increased, forcing IDLO to implement its projects with less funding... lacks proper financial certifications, which prevents it from validating its internal spending.” This is incorrect.
- IDLO’s budget has been increasing over the past few years, reflecting continuing confidence and trust in IDLO’s work from our donors.
- Excluding JTTP, IDLO has implemented programs in Afghanistan worth 35 million EUR (approx. 45 million USD) funded by a number of donors, including Italy, Japan, Canada, Netherlands, France, the UK, U.S. and the World Bank, with no complaint from any donor on program delivery or financial management.
- IDLO is audited annually by an international auditor on an annual basis and has always received clean audit reports.
- IDLO has a robust governance system, comprising of 26 governments and a multilateral fund. The U.S. is currently the President of IDLO’s highest oversight body, the Assembly of Parties. The U.S. plays an active role in the supervision of the Organization on a routine basis.
- IDLO’s Audit and Finance Committee (AFC) is currently chaired by the Financial Controller of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs - a professional auditor. The immediate previous Chair was the U.S.
- IDLO has extensive and rigorous oversight procedures in place for JTTP which have been described above.
“IDLO has refused to fully comply with SIGAR’s repeated requests for information regarding its budget, organizational structure, and financial relationship with the US government.” IDLO does not agree. IDLO staff met SIGAR representatives in Kabul and Rome and also provided written information in April and May of this year, offering further assistance if required. We were surprised to learn of the alert letter, having received no follow up from SIGAR. We are committed to transparency and accountability and remain ready to cooperate. About JTTP in Afghanistan Under JTTP, IDLO is providing training and capacity building to support legal and judicial professionals working in the justice system in Afghanistan – prosecutors, judges, legal aid lawyers – across the country, including Kabul and the provinces. The aim is to build sustainable training capacity and hand over the program to Afghan entities by late 2015. Afghanistan is a member party of IDLO and JTTP has the support of the Afghan authorities and civil society organizations. The rule of law and access to justice are essential for establishing peace, stability, social development, and economic opportunity in Afghanistan. About IDLO The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity. IDLO works along the spectrum from nation and peace-building to economic recovery in countries emerging from conflict or striving towards democracy. It supports emerging economies and middle-income countries to strengthen their legal capacity and rule of law framework for sustainable development and economic opportunity. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Judit Arenas, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, +1 646 506 5996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.