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AFGHANISTAN: Debate on justice reform

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

KABUL, 16 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - State institutions involved in the justice system along with the United Nations and other national and international organisations, are discussing justice reform at a three-day workshop that began on Monday in the capital, Kabul.

A 24-page strategy paper entitled 'Justice for All' is being used as the basis for discussion at the meeting and is expected to form the foundation of future policy for the justice sector.

"The paper emphasises the need for capacity building and improvements in law schools, which are two of the root causes of the current problems in the justice sector," Mir Hayatullah Pacha Alhashimi, the Afghan deputy justice minister, said as he opened the workshop on Monday.

"We are also witnessing a serious lack of coordination among donors. They are duplicating projects and I hope this strategy paper will tackle this problem," he said. According to Alhashimi, the government will need at least US $60 million to fund basic requirements in the justice sector reform over the next ten years.

The justice ministry says a lack of professional staff or court buildings are serious problems in the administration of justice. Only 15 of 380 designated courts across Afghanistan have buildings within which to hold hearings. There is also a shortage of both prisons and training facilities in Afghanistan's crumbling justice system. Prisons in more than 20 provinces have no proper premises or facilities according to the ministry.

After three decades of conflict, civil war and rule by the hard-line Taliban regime, the legal system in rural areas has been rendered at best ineffective and in many places completely non-existent. In the absence of any state system, traditional tribal courts and local justice fill the void. Even in Kabul, where the justice apparatus is more developed than elsewhere in the country, people complain about corruption, long delays in cases coming to court and general inefficiency.

"The paper is taking a strategic planning approach and I think that is a very new thing," said Inge Fryklund a USAID advisor on the rule of law, attending the workshop. "The idea of this strategic planning is to look into the future - how Afghanistan's justice sector would look in ten years time."

The paper lays out plans for the training of judges, recruitment of lawyers, improvement of law schools and the establishment of police training in human rights.


 Theme(s) Democracy
Other recent AFGHANISTAN reports:

United Nations and rights bodies criticise jailing of journalist,  25/Oct/05

Earthquake kills five in south,  24/Oct/05

People surrender arms but want rebuilding,  20/Oct/05

Rights body warns of warlords’ success in elections,  18/Oct/05

UN-Afghan aid to Pakistan underway,  17/Oct/05

Other recent Democracy & Governance reports:

SOMALIA: UN envoy commends Somaliland's stability, 1/Nov/05

ETHIOPIA: Opposition party calls for consumer boycott, 1/Nov/05

TANZANIA: Zanzibar polls end amid claims of irregularities, intimidation, 31/Oct/05

KENYA: Four killed in clashes at referendum campaign, 31/Oct/05

GUINEA: Opposition throws hat into ring for local elections, 31/Oct/05

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