Annual Regional Justice Conference

More than 100 Afghans Discuss Anti-Corruption and Access to Justice
Yesterday, the two-day Annual Regional Justice Conference ended in Mazar-e Sharif, Balkh. In the sixth’ justice conference for Afghanistan’s Northern Provinces, more than 100 participants discussed the current state of access to justice and anti-corruption in Afghanistan. The German programme for the promotion of the rule of law in Afghanistan (RoL) supported the conference together with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

In Afghanistan, marginalised groups like women, children and internally displaced people, often face problems accessing their rights. In past years, there has been significant progress changing this situation. However, people often lack the necessary knowledge and suffer from unfair treatment and corruption. During his speech, the attending German vice consular in Balkh, Mr Johannes Rumpff, emphasised, “Corruption steals opportunities and resources from the ones who are entitled to them. As long as corruption is not prosecuted and punished, it will persist.”

In addition to the German vice consular, representatives from civil society, the justice sector, various departments of the Northern Provinces and other high-ranking officials attended the event. The speakers focused on fighting corruption in Afghanistan, including the justice sector. Balkh’s deputy governor, Mr Bashir Tawhidy, stated; “Only an independent justice sector can ensure the rule of law. We support cooperation with justice organisations for increased transparency in the sector. We ask the people not to tolerate corruption, but to inform us and thus to help to prevent it.”

The attendees also discussed recent achievements. The Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Centre was recently established in Kabul to prosecute corruption, including cases in the Afghan justice sector. The first cases are already in process. Further, specialised courts for the prosecution of violence against women were created in Kabul and the provinces to help women claim their rights. Results will be picked up at the next conference.

Even though the mentioned results are essential milestones, many challenges remain. Future conferences will have to tackle the lack of legal awareness among the citizens. Moreover, the justice sector’s professional capacities have to be increased. Especially in remote provinces and districts, a lack of well-trained legal experts often hinder citizens’ access to justice and facilitate corruption.

The programme Promotion of the Rule of Law in Afghanistan (RoL) is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The programme aims at ensuring that the Afghan state is based on the rule of law, has a properly functioning judicial system and provides legal security for all its citizens. The programme implements various activities to achieve this objective: Improving the professional capacity of justice sector staff includes the support of Law and Sharia faculties of State Universities in the Northern Provinces to improve learning conditions and to strengthen capabilities of future lawyers. To support higher legal education, RoL has provided more than 30,000 books to law and sharia faculties organised more than 150 courses on legal topics for students and lecturers and awarded more than 60 students with scholarships.