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President Karzai attends Rome Conference on Rebuilding Afghan Justice System

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other top officials gathered in Rome on Monday July 2 for a major two-day international conference on "Justice and the Rule of Law in Afghanistan" in which the international community discussed how to strengthen the country's frail justice system, largely destroyed by more than 25 years of violence. Italian Premier Romano Prodi, who opened the conference's second day, was in attendance, along with regional players such as Pakistan, foreign ministers from European countries, NATO and EU representatives, and delegations from the U.N., United States, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

In his opening address President Karzai told the conference that urgent priorities included low salaries, poor infrastructure and the training of personnel. The event proceeded with closed-door technical panels focusing on access to justice and human rights, legislative processes and coordination among law-enforcement officials. Discussion also focused on judicial reforms and financial aid for the justice sector. The conference concluded with the announcement that $360 million would be donated by the international community, devoted to the training of judges and rebuilding prisons and other relevant facilities.

The conference’s agenda included issues such as prison reform and legal training. Concrete tools were provided to improve coordination among law-enforcement officials and tackle corruption. Some of the main challenges in Afghanistan's legal system include improving professional training, achieving consistent interpretation and application of law by judges, building schools and courthouses, establishing a national bar association as well as proper training for individuals aspiring to enter the legal system.

The process of establishing the rule of law in Afghanistan has encountered many challenges. "The aim of the conference is to stress how the justice system represents a priority ... to consolidate democracy in Afghanistan," Pasquale Ferrara, Foreign Ministry spokesman, told reporters ahead of the conference.

"There needs to be donor commitment," said Geralyn Busnardo, of the Rome-based International Development Law Organization, which has helped rebuild the Afghan judiciary. "We need to have a plan for the next five years, perhaps not necessarily a comprehensive, full-blown strategy, but we need to have some sort of a plan that talks about where we're going to be in five years," she said.

In his closing address, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema remarked that "the conference represents an important step in the international commitment to Afghanistan."

The President was accompanied on the trip by Chief Justice and Head of the Supreme Court Abdul Salaam Azimi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, Minister of Finance Dr Anwarulhaq Ahadi, Minister of Justice Sarwar Danesh, Minister of Higher Education Dr Muhammad Azam Dadfar, National Security Advisor Dr Zalmai Rasoul, Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabit, Advisor to the President on Economic Affairs Muhammad Sadeq Naderi, Senior Advisor to the President Dr Dauod Sabah, Advisor to the President Habibullah Ghaleb, Chief of Staff to the President Muhammad Umer Dauodzai, and Spokesman for the President Karim Rahimi.

Please click HERE to read the Joint Recommendations of the Rome Conference on Rule of Law.


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