Programs & Projects

Projects in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Judicial Reform Project

The Afghanistan Judicial Reform Project is a training program for 450 judges who comprise the country's new judiciary. IHRLI is assisting its institutional partner, the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) of Siracusa, in providing training in criminal justice and human rights. These courses take place over a 16-month period in a special facility in Kabul. The judges are organized in groups of 30 and provided with two and a half days of training every four weeks. The training is supplemented with on-going consultations and communications designed to maximize the impact of the program, while also limiting their absence from official duties. The 450 judges are equally divided between those from Kabul and from outside the capital. The judges were selected by the Supreme Court of Afghanistan and include 50 women, the largest number of female judges appointed in any Muslim country.

Provincial Justice Initiative

IHRLI is supporting the work of ISISC on the Provincial Justice Initiative. This project focuses on training and capacity building efforts in the provinces of Afghanistan. The majority of justice sector reform projects in Afghanistan have focused their attention and resources on Kabul and a few other major cities, neglecting the needs of the provincial justice sector. The ISISC/IHRLI Provincial Justice Initiative is playing the lead role in addressing this imbalance. The Initiative began in 2004 and has trained 585 legal professionals in 12 of the 32 provinces of Afghanistan. The Provincial Justice Initiative uses an entirely Afghan training staff that has completed earlier ISISC/IHRLI trainings. Working with local staff encourages Afghan ownership as well as long-term sustainability.

Counter-Narcotics Trainings

In 2004, ISISC was invited to contribute to efforts to combat Afghanistan’s drug production and trafficking problems. ISISC has since launched the Advanced Training Program for the Afghan Counter Narcotics Judicial Task Force. IHRLI is supporting the work of ISISC to train judges, prosecutors, counter-narcotics officers, and senior prison officers on how to combat drug trafficking while respecting due process and new elements of Afghan law. ISISC/IHRLI have also partnered with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Embassy of the United Kingdom in these efforts. A two-stage expansion of the project began in early 2005.

Past Accomplishments

Rome Conference

From July 2-3, 2007, the United Nations, along with the Italian and Afghan governments, convened a conference on the rule of law in Afghanistan. Professor Bassiouni and Daniel Rothenberg prepared one of the key policy papers for the Rome conference entitled “An Assessment of Justice Sector and Rule of Law Reform in Afghanistan and the Need for a Comprehensive Plan”. Professor Bassiouni chaired one of the working groups and addressed the conference which included high ranking representatives of the EU, NATO, key countries involved in Afghan reconstruction, as well as the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Afghanistan

From 2004-2005 Professor Bassiouni served as the United Nations Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan. IHRLI staff assisted with research for the reports that Professor Bassiouni submitted to the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Commission. Professor Bassiouni’s efforts led to the release of over 700 prisoners who had been detained illegally for over two years.

International Human Rights Law Institute