Rights and security for all Afghans

Project description

Title: Promotion of the rule of law in Afghanistan
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Afghanistan
Lead executing agency: Afghan Ministry of Justice
Overall term: 2003 to 2017

Afghanistan.  © GIZ

Context
In Afghanistan, several different legal systems – traditional law, Islamic law and modern law – exist side by side. After the fall of the Taliban the country acquired a new constitution in 2004, but it has been of only limited significance to date. Many Afghans continue to rely on informal structures, and the state legal system does not have a universal presence. Existing judicial bodies, such as the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Public Prosecution Department, have insufficient contact with one another.

Objective
Afghanistan is a state based on the rule of law with a properly functioning judicial system. It ensures legal security for all its citizens. The police and judiciary act in accordance with the constitution.

Approach
The project advises the government on the reform of the justice sector. It supports the production of teaching manuals and organises training and training materials for the staff of the judicial structures. In the districts, civil cases are often resolved by so-called Huqooq offices. The project offers further education and mentoring for the staff of these offices, to give them the knowledge they need to make decisions in accordance with current laws. Thanks to regular interactions with other representatives of the judiciary and administration, cooperation between these and the Huqooq offices is gradually improving.

The project organises exchanges between the police and community representatives in order to build people’s trust in the former. It uses newspaper supplements, brochures, posters and radio and TV broadcasts to inform people about their options for legal advice and access to the law.

Awareness campaigns are also used to address the prevailing negative attitudes within the population regarding the work of women in the judiciary and the police, and to raise the profile of the opportunities such work presents for women and their families.

With the help of the project, the Afghan Independent Bar Association opened its first regional office in Kunduz. In addition to this, the project is establishing a comprehensive network of state-run legal advice centres, while in the provinces of Kundus, Balkh, Samangan, Baghlan, Badakhshan and Takhar it is supporting lawyers – both men and women – in opening new offices.

The project advises young lawyers as they embark on their careers. It is supporting faculties of law and sharia in the northern provinces by providing theoretical and practical training, legal texts and specialist literature.

Results
Since the Afghan Independent Bar Association opened its office, the number of lawyers in Kunduz has risen from 12 to 70. In prisons, lawyers are now able to offer legal advice in a protected space. Women can obtain free advice from the Office for Women’s Affairs, and in Takhar, a group of qualified female lawyers have opened their own office. In Kunduz, six new Huqooq offices have opened since 2011, which the project has supported through the provision of training and mentoring, and a supply of legal texts and specialist publications. Increasing numbers of women and men are now using these offices, which underscores the success of the training: the number of cases processed rose from 1,439 in 2011 to 1,498 in 2012 and to 1,596 in 2013.

Since 2010, representatives of local communities and of various official bodies have been involved in over 1,200 dispute resolution forums. Women make up one third of those taking part. More than 50 anonymous complaints boxes are available for people to submit cases for discussion in these forums.

In all universities, the project has set up a legal library and has provided training courses for around 550 female students. The Female Lawyers Network in Balkh is preparing women to enter the legal profession. And with project support, the first legal commentary on the Constitution of Afghanistan has been published by students at the University of Balkh.

Afghanistan. © GIZ

Contact

Bernd Messerschmidt
bernd.messerschmidt@giz.de