UNODC Supports Modernizing Judicial Facilities in Afghanistan

Students coping with the essay question

Afghanistan's formal justice system continues to suffer from severe and systemic problems, despite the many and significant improvements that have been made in the last years. More than thirty years of conflict has hobbled the country's justice system. UNODC's Criminal Justice Reform Programme was launched in 2002 as the first, immediate response to the needs of Afghanistan's formal justice system that lacked, inter alia, comprehensive national legislation, qualified legal and judicial personnel and infrastructure. Re-establishing the rule of law, addressing impunity, and developing a professional judicial culture are essential pre-requisites for peace and stability.

 UNODC adopted a comprehensive "software and hardware" approach, where the provision of infrastructure goes hand in hand with the revision and development of a solid legislative framework. In order to reestablish and reinforce once-lost confidence in the formal justice system, UNODC continued support to construction of modernized judicial facilities back to back with training of judges, prosecutors and other law professionals under the Criminal Justice Sub-programme of the current UNODC Country Programme based on the generous funding of the Government of Japan.

The Criminal Justice Sub-programme plans will support the judiciary by, inter alia, constructing six judicial facilities by April 2016. The construction of first three, the Ghoryan District Court in the Herat province, the Hairatan District Court in the Balkh province, and the Provincial Justice Department Building in the Bamyan Province, commenced in 2013.

Construction work continued during Afghanistan's cold winter season and the Ghoryan District Court in Herat was completed and handed over to the Supreme Court in May 2014.  Likewise, the Hairatan District Court in Balkh was completed in June 2014.


Ghoryan District Court, Herat

On 7 May 2014, the UNODC mission, composed of two programme officers and an engineer, visited the Ghoryan district centre to attend the hand-over ceremony of the Ghoryan District Court. Ghoryan is located near the Afghan-Iran border, a 2-hour drive from the provincial capital, Herat City. 

The UNODC mission was welcomed by about 50 people, including Engineer Ahmad-Farid Ziaratjahi, the Ghoryan district governor, district authority staff and community leaders. In the hand-over ceremony held in the governor's office, Engineer Ziaratjahi stated that security conditions in Ghoryan continue to be stable, despite some maneuvers by anti-governmental elements, and stability will be further strengthened by the judicial facility to be handed over on the day. He expected more support from international society to be provided to Afghanistan and the district.

Thereafter the building was formally inaugurated by representatives from the provincial court authority, the district governor and local villagers. The court representatives, the governor and community expressed their satisfaction and gratitude for Japan's generous support through UNODC.

Hairatan District Court, Balkh

The hand-over ceremony of the Hairatan District Court, Balkh, took place on 24 June 2014. The ceremony was attended by a delegation from the Supreme Court, the Head of Appeals Court of Balkh, a representative from UNAMA Rule of Law, the Mayor of Hairatan municipality and representatives from UNODC and IOM.

  In the ceremony, representing the Supreme Court and judges in Balkh, the Head of the Provincial Appellate Court expressed his appreciation for the generous support of Japan through UNODC. He also emphasized significance of having an established court in Hairatan, a border city which sees legal disputes and illegal activities increasing as cross-border movement of goods, services and people increases. The Hairatan Mayor also expressed his appreciation for the support and echoed the significance of establishing a judicial facility in the municipality. Each of the speakers from the Afghan side commended the generous support from the people of Japan.

In response, the Senior Advisor and Programme Manager for Criminal Justice, stated that UNODC is pleased to provide technical assistance for the promotion of justice in Hairatan and Balkh. He also noted that UNODC, a small organization but with specialized expertise in criminal justice and a good understanding of Afghan culture, hopes to continue its assistance to Afghanistan's judiciary. Collins was presented a certificate of appreciation for cooperation by the Chief Judge of the Balkh Appellate Court.

After the ceremony, the courthouse was jointly inaugurated by representatives from the court, the municipality and UNODC.


UNODC continues support to modernized judicial facilities

The third judicial facility, the Bamyan Provincial Justice Department building, is expected to be completed in September 2014. UNODC also plans to construct three more judicial facilities - the Dehdadi District Court in the Balkh province and two provincial justice department buildings in the Panjshir and Kapisa provinces - by early 2016. UNODC will continue to support the improvement of Afghanistan's criminal justice system through this unique and practical support to judicial "hardware", in the area of construction and "software", in the training of judges and prosecutor.