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Afghan Attorney General Travels to Washington, Launches Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

On December 13 Afghanistan’s Attorney General Abdul Jabar Sabit in partnership with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice launched a public-private partnership to promote an independent and fair judicial system in Afghanistan. In accordance with this partnership, U.S. law firms and law schools agreed to fund projects that train members of the legal profession and offer aid to the poor.

The public-private partnership will provide lawyer-to-lawyer support with the aim of bringing Afghan practitioners into the larger international community of legal professionals. Training will focus on investigation, indictment, prosecution and management, with an emphasis on the rights of the accused. The partnership will also allow U.S. law firms to make tax deductible contributions to fund low-cost, high-uimpact projects to strengthen Afghanistan’s justice system. Funding will support the activieis of local, non-governmental organizations such as the Afghan Women Judges Associateion, the Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan, the Afghan Bar Association, and the Afghan Prosecuters Association. Current U.S. partners include the Law Offices of Donald Edgar of Santa Rosa, California, and Arent Fox LLP of Washington D.C. as well as the University of Utah School of Law.

“Establishing a fair, democratic and transparent justice system in Afghanistan is essential to the country's success. And we know that there is much work remaining to be done,” said Secretary Rice. “One concern for the justice system is the deficiency of basic equipment, such as just office supplies, vehicles, and the limited availability of defense attorneys and private practitioners.” The Secretary of State also identified the challenge of expanding public awareness of legal rights, training new judges, and increasing the number of women judges as key priorities.

Attorney General Sabit described the shortage of trained lawyers and prosecutors in Afghanistan and identified the need to amend legal codes inherited from past governments and revive the institution of defense lawyers, which dissapeared under communist and Taleban rule.

In recent months, the attorney general's office has launched a nationwide campaign to fight corruption, resulting in prosecution of hundreds of cases of embezzlement, bribery and abuse of authority by public officials. "Raising the salaries of prosecutors and judges would help us fight corruption," he said. "Our friends outside of Afghanistan believe there is corruption and they should not waste their money to give it to us, the Afghans, to spend on the reconstruction of Afghanistan. I can assure them here and elsewhere that we fight corruption, and we do not have that much corruption as is believed to be there in Afghanistan."

"This is an exciting moment for the law school," said University of Utah law school Dean Hiram Chodosh. "We are increasingly known for having assembled an unparalleled level of expertise with an ability to meet this kind of challenge. The long-term ambition is to embed a training methodology that can be disseminated to Afghanistan's 2,000 prosecutors nationwide.”

During his visit to the U.S., the Attorney General also met with Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, John Gastright, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Ambassador Thomas Schweich, Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs Larry Johnson, Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig Morford and other legal experts and dignitaries.

For more information about the public-private partnership, please CLICK HERE

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