Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Annex 1


  Key Afghan Stakeholders: Ministry of Justice, Attorney General's Office, Supreme Court, Counter Narcotics Directorate, Ministry of Interior

  Current Key International Stakeholders: UNODC, Italy (as lead nation on judicial reform), UK (as lead nation on counter narcotics)


  The Afghan National Drug Control Strategy calls for the establishment of an efficient and modern criminal justice system to address drug trafficking and other forms of criminal activity, including strengthening key components of the criminal justice system, such as courts, prosecution offices and correction centres. Laws will be enacted to ensure that drug traffickers are punished severely to provide the required deterrence. All Afghan drug laws should conform to international standards as set out in the United Nations Drug Conventions to which Afghanistan is a party, and mechanisms should be established to monitor compliance with those Conventions. Moreover, respect for core values, such as the inviolability of basic human rights, should be factored into all relevant capacity-building programmes.

Current situation

  A new Drug Law has been signed by the President and is now in effect. It complies with the relevant UN Drug Conventions, but more detailed implementation regulations are required. Many judges and officers of the court, particularly in the provinces, are not aware of it. The drug law must be incorporated into the ongoing justice sector reform initiatives carried out by UNODC (criminal law and capacity building of the Ministry of Justice; penitentiary reform; juvenile justice reform), by UNDP (governance promotion; support to the Judicial Reform Commission), and, by UNICEF (support to wayward youth).

  The prosecution of drug cases, especially for major criminals, poses some particular problems.. They are often very powerful people, particularly in their local areas, capable of bribing and intimidating their way out of trouble. Witness testimony may be difficult to obtain. The Afghan Government remains determined to prosecute such criminals, but faces difficulties doing so safely and efficiently through the existing courts system.

Areas for future work

  There is in principle agreement from the key stakeholders to examine the development a stand-alone capacity within the justice sector to deal with cases prosecuted under the 1382 (2003) Drug Law securely, fairly and efficiently. Co-ordination with reform programmes in the wider justice sector is vital. Many details need to be worked out. A first step will be a visit by a panel of international experts to Kabul to meet with key stakeholders and develop recommendations based on their findings. But the following areas need consideration:

    —  Amendment to 1382 (2003) Drug Law to define serious offences with central jurisdiction and lesser offences with provincial jurisdiction and review evidentiary rules. Publication of law in basic form.

    —  In the short term, adapt and secure sections of existing judicial and prison facilities to hold major drugs criminals.

    —  In the longer term, creation of a special prosecution unit to help prosecute serious offences together with construction of a high security court and prison facility for high-profile cases and/or inclusion of adequate security measures in existing prisons to house such offenders. Investigate role for a Special Drugs Prosecutor. Establishment of witness protection/relocation capability.

    —  Training for judges, prosecutors and defenders in the 1382 (2003) Drug Law and for Counter Narcotics Police in collection, preservation and presentation of evidence;

    —  Assistance from International Community to provide Prosecutable Evidence for the major drugs traffickers;

    —  Phased construction of special court and prison facilities in all provinces for secure and efficient prosecution of lesser drug offences.

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Prepared 29 July 2004