UNODC assists Afghanistan justice system in setting up code of ethics

20 August 2010 - Corruption and poor governance are major causes preventing the process of reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. To help address these challenges, UNODC is promoting and supporting the implementation of anti-corruption measures and an accountable justice system.

UNODC is assisting the Attorney General's Office in creating and implementing the Code of Ethics and Professional Standards for prosecutors. Among other things, UNODC advises the Afghan Government on reforming anti-corruption legislation, including by complying with the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

The Code of Ethics, first launched in August 2009, was developed in an Afghan-led process over a period of three years and was eventually finalized with the expert technical assistance of UNODC and the Justice Sector Support Program of the United States State Department. This Code integrates international standards with the legal and cultural norms of Afghanistan. Important aspects are the inclusion of constitutional and statutory obligations to protect human rights and the rights of the suspect and accused. The final draft of the Code was developed following a consultative process that include a series of ethics seminars and round tables for prosecutor offices in Kandahar, Kabul, Herat, Mazar and Jalalabad.

The code is composed of 28 articles that apply specifically to prosecutors and set the standards for their performance in office. It also includes an internal disciplinary mechanism for investigation, adjudication and appeal of complaints against prosecutors by the public and other legal professionals. Furthermore, it provides essential and fundamental standards and norms for all prosecutors, and implements the requirements of the Convention against Corruption, which was ratified by Afghanistan in 2008.

The importance of a strong Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and guidance on solid professional conduct was emphasized by Mohammad Ishaq Alako, the Afghan Attorney General, as an important element in the fight against corruption and as an important signal of Afghanistan's commitment to implementing the Convention.

The Code will strenghten professionalism and integrity in the Attorney General's Office and constitutes one in a series of steps to ensure the highest integrity of all prosecutors and ethical conduct that will increase the public's trust in investigations and prosecutions. UNODC will continue to provide technical and financial support to the Attorney General's Office for comprehensive training for prosecutors in all of the provinces, to strengthen their basic capacity, accountability and integrity.