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Strengthening the role of the victim attorneys in Afghanistan

"The position of a defense lawyer and attorney should be equivalent to that of a state prosecutor.”- Acting Minister of Justice, Mr. Fazil Ahmad Manawi

As part of an ongoing effort to reform the Afghanistan Criminal Procedure Code 2014, WJO submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Justice. Our focus: to integrate and strengthen survivor-centered approaches to criminal justice.

Amongst our recommendations, we pushed for the formalisation of the role of "victim attorneys" during investigation and trial. The proposal was submitted during our consultations with the Ministry of Justice's Law Reform Committee in December 2020 and January 2021.

On March 31, 2021, a conference on the "Role of Defence Law in Ensuring Justice and Fair Trial", organised by Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and French Institute, was held and attended by the Acting Minister of Justice, Mr. Fazil Ahmad Manawi, and Head of AIBA, Mr. Rohullah Qarizada.

During the conference, Mr. Manawi agreed with our recommendation in principle, adding that: “the position of defence lawyers and attorneys should be equivalent to that of a Prosecutor” and that better coordination between them will "build public confidence in the formal justice system."

We are hopeful that the revised Criminal Procedure Code will redefine the role of attorneys representing victims, expand their access to court documents and provide for their equal participation during investigation and trial.

For the amendments to become a reality, stronger coordination between the Ministry of Justice, courts, AIBA and legal aid service providers will be a priority.

Women for Justice Organization (WJO) is a member of the Law Reform Committee of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

Written by: Shekeba Ahmadi

Picture: Afghanistan Legal Aid and Advocates Network (ALAAN)

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