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Afghanistan’s Judicial System Strengthened through International Partnerships

This fall, a course organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) will hold specialized courses at Kabul University on "Practical Lawyer Skills Training." The coursework will encompass analyzing evidence, writing defense statements and making oral arguments. Financial assistance was also provided by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

Discussing objectives of the course, Chief of Party for the IDLO-CIDA project, Ms. Ele Pawelski, highlighted the urgent need for more qualified defense lawyers in Afghanistan.
"Adequate legal representation is a practical necessity if the state justice system is to have an effective role in protecting the rights of vulnerable people,” she said. “A culture of criminal defense advocacy is gradually being instilled within the legal community in Afghanistan, and the hope is that all or most of those trained on the IDLO course will pursue careers as defense lawyers." 

In early September, 37 judges in Afghanistan's Parwan province were the first of more than 450 judges to receive complete sets of Afghan law books as part of a USAID judicial capacity building initiative. Each set of law books consists of 17 volumes that cover both criminal and civil law, including the constitution of Afghanistan, penal and civil codes, counternarcotics and human-rights law. The books were delivered by the Bagram Reconstruction Team and Army Lt. Col. Chris Jacobs, an attorney with the Combined Joint Task Force 82 Staff Judge Advocate Office. The initiative aims to distribute complete sets of Afghan law books to every judge in the country.

"Most Afghan judges have either limited or no access to published law. This lack of legal resources made it very difficult, if not impossible, to correctly apply the law and ensure uniformity throughout the Afghan court system. The judges will now have the tools to make rulings based upon the laws of Afghanistan," said Army Capt. Ryan Kerwin, another attorney with Combined Joint Task Force 82.

Parwan Chief Judge Fazil Rahmman Habibi and Head Army Prosecutor Zikria Shitab expressed their appreciation for the law books. "I cannot remember the last time each judge had his own set of Afghan law books," Habibi said. "We really appreciate getting these books; we've been in need of them, but they are very expensive, so we are grateful to get them."

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