IHRLI faculty and staff began working in Afghanistan when Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, IHRLI founder and former Institute President, was named United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights in Afghanistan. IHRLI staff assisted Professor Bassiouni in the research and preparation of his reports. In addition, IHRLI has worked closely with International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (ISISC) on a number of rule of law and human rights programs including initiatives that to train Afghan judges, prosecutors and police officers, provide support for the rule of law in rural Afghanistan, and assist with a variety of research and capacity building initiatives.
- Report on Rule of Law Reform in Afghanistan for the Rome Conference (2007)
- Provincial Justice Initiative (2004 - 2009)
- Afghan Counter Narcotics Judicial Training Program (2004 – 2008)
- Afghanistan Judicial Reform Project (2004 - 2006)
- Training Course on the Interim Criminal Procedure Code (2004)
- United Nations Independent Expert for Human Rights in Afghanistan (2004 – 2005)
M. Cherif Bassiouni and Daniel Rothenberg prepared a key policy paper on rule of law reform in Afghanistan for presentation at the Rome Conference in July 2007. The paper was commissioned by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which hosted the conference since Italy took the lead on legal reform in Afghanistan following the Bonn Conference. The Rome Conference was attended by many major political figures including: Ban Ki Moon, U.N. Secretary General, Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan and many high level diplomats from around the world. Rothenberg conducted the fieldwork for the paper and Rothenberg conducted the fieldwork for the project and was assisted by Zaid al-Farisi who was Chief of Party at the ISISC office in Kabul. Professor Bassiouni served as one of the Rapporteurs at the Rome Conference where he presented a series of policy recommendations to donors and the international community.
IHRLI supported the work of ISISC on the Provincial Justice Initiative. This project focused on training and capacity building efforts in rural provinces of Afghanistan. The goal of the project is to provide assistance to areas that were generally neglected by the majority of justice sector reform projects. The project trained over 580 legal professionals in 12 of the Afghanistan’s 32 provinces. The Provincial Justice Initiative used an entirely Afghan training staff, all of whom had completed earlier ISISC trainings. This process improved communication, Afghan ownership and long-term sustainability.
IHRLI supported ISISC in training members of the Afghan Counter Narcotics Judicial Task Force on international standards, human rights and rule of law. The training worked with judges, prosecutors, counter-narcotics officers, and senior prison officials on how to combat drug trafficking while respecting due process, international law and new elements of Afghan law.
ISISC began working in Afghanistan on a Judicial Reform Project to assist the country’s judiciary in adapting to new legislation. IHRLI helped ISISC train 450 judges, 50 of whom were women, drawn from around the country. Each training worked with groups of 30 judges that participated in an intensive educational program supplemented by on-going consultations. The program was developed in coordination with the Judicial Reform Commission, the Afghan Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Office of the Attorney General. The project included study tours to Egypt and Italy for selected participants and the most successful participants were recruited as trainers for future ISISC projects.
ISISC worked in cooperation with the Italian Justice Office in Kabul to train over 120 Afghan judges, prosecutors, police officers, law professors and Ministry of Justice officials on how to use the new Interim Criminal Procedure Law. The training was conducted at Kabul University and combined lectures with participatory and practical exercises including mock trials and case studies.
Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni was appointed as United Nations Independent Expert for Human Rights in Afghanistan by the Secretary General in 2004. In this capacity, he traveled with ISISC and IHRLI staff to Afghanistan to conduct field research used to prepare an interim report presented to the General Assembly’s Third Committee in October 2004 and a final report to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in April 2005. As Independent Expert, Professor Bassiouni drew attention to an array of issues including: repressive actions by factional commanders; violations by state security forces, the unregulated activities of private security contractors; serious threats to human rights posed by opium production and trafficking; violations of women’s rights; and, abuses committed by the United States-led Coalition forces. He called on the Afghan government to work with the international community to design and implement a comprehensive strategic plan regarding the rule of law, justice and human rights. IHRLI staff who traveled to Afghanistan to support Professor Bassiouni included Martin Cinnamond, Kelly McCracken, and Daniel Rothenberg. In addition, a number of consultants and DePaul University fellows and students assisted in the preparation of the reports, alongside support from the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Bassiouni meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his legal advisors in the Presidential Residence for a briefing on the human rights situation. Kabul, February 2005.
Bassiouni discusses the poor conditions of Pol-e Charkhi prison to the Director of Prisons in Afghanistan during an inspection. Kabul, July 2004.