JHRA First Quarter Progress Report 2014
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan Project Phase II (JHRA) aims to increase the public’s trust in Afghan justice institutions to create the necessary foundation for the re-establishment of State legitimacy. JHRA Phase II was initiated in 2013.
JHRA provides important support to:
- Establish functional high-level coordination mechanisms for developing policy and legislation in accordance with international and national standards with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ);
- Establish functional mechanisms to provide quality justice services to vulnerable groups through Afghan counterparts; and
- Establish public participation processes and knowledge base for improving access to justice and human rights compliance through government institutions, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) and civil society organizations (CSOs).
The following is an overview of the achievements and challenges for Q1 2014:
- JHRA is providing support to the MoJ through the Policy and Planning Department (PPD) to assist the ministry in realizing its development commitments. In Q1, the PPD completed the MoJ Five-Year Strategy, which formally links the institutional strategy with NPP5. This strategy also informs the Rule of Law Indicators Study (RoLIS) process. Working group with members from the MoJ, Attorney General’s Office (AGO), Supreme Court and the Ministry of Interior (MoI) have developed indicators based on the strategic planning processes in their institutions.
- JHRA supported improvements in the quality of legislation through a three-week tailored training on legislative drafting, facilitated by professors from Jindal Global Law School. These trainings worked directly with Taqnin and Human Rights Support Unit (HRSU) staff to ensure national legislation is properly harmonized and reflects international best practices and human rights. These trainings produced a legislative gap analysis, and recommendations for necessary legislation to facilitate the3 legislative drafting process.
- As a result of constant advocacy with the leadership of the MoJ, a Ministerial Order has been issued that formalizes the business processes between HRSU and the Taqnin, requiring close collaboration on all new legislative drafts to ensure compliance with international human rights conventions.
- JHRA has provided technical support to HRSU for the tracking of the Government of Afghanistan’s National Action Plan on the Implementation of Recommendations for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (Recommendation Action Plan - RAP). The constant follow-up with the key government institutions responsible for implementing these international recommendations has strengthened HRSU’s relationship with the human rights focal points in line ministries, and led to more insightful engagement to support human rights work throughout the government.
- JHRA has fostered stronger professional ties between HRSU and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) through technical support to the UNCAT State reporting process. The international and national experts assisting MoFA with the UNCAT State report have initiated coordination between the two institutions, and the value of this partnership has been evidenced through self-driven coordination between MoFA and HRSU for the UPR State report, data collection and coordination with government human rights focal points.
- The Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF) has initiated outreach through AIBA to key justice officials in Herat, Nangarhar and Kabul. This mechanism provides a channel for training and case support which will bring the State in closer contact with Afghanistan’s most vulnerable groups. To ensure that this engagement is effective in building the public’s trust and the State’s relationship with the public, a National Committee has been established to identify the definition of who can access this facility, establish training standards and develop monitoring frameworks.
- JHRA has supported large coordination meetings between community leaders in the target districts of Herat, Nangarhar and Balkh and the provincial State representatives to discuss State responsibilities in the justice process. These sessions also mapped the current institutions being accessed by community leaders and the types of cases they are being asked to adjudicate. This process was the first interaction of this kind between these groups, and has strengthened the authority of the State/non-State platforms as well as informed the informal justice and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) research being conducted under output 3.
- To improve service delivery JHRA is providing inter-institutional and peer-to-peer trainings to foster a better understanding between justice service providers on issues concerning Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) and case reporting. These trainings will be linked into support provided to the National Legal Training Centers (NLTC) which JHRA is developing.
- The mapping of the types of cases and institutional interactions undertaken by community leaders is being developed into a larger policy document on boundaries within which the State can interact with communities on civil cases. To have an impact, this work will generate a policy paper for the government to use in reforms to the Jirga Law, policies on case management, and systematized interaction with communities.
- Guidance for channeling information between State and non-State institutions and to the public is being planned through the MoJ Public Legal Awareness Unit (PLAU). JHRA is supporting the development of a practical communication strategy through tailored sessions informed by a Detailed Assessment of Media Service Providers and the Public Perception Survey. In addition, JHRA is providing advisory support for the formulation of a regulation aimed at institutionalizing the Public Legal Awareness Coordination Committee. This will help ensure consistency of messaging by government to affect longer-term behavioral and opinion change.
- JHRA’s street vendors’ initiative provides practical lessons on the provision of legal protection to vulnerable groups. The technical coordination committees (TCC) established in Herat and Kabul are being expanded throughout the country, and are developing municipal legislation to protect the rights of workers in the informal sector. As the State extends its protection to a broader swath of the public, trust in the State will increase.
- In order to ensure that a strong watchdog is present to oversee the progress of the government’s work, JHRA is supporting the development of the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan and Action Plan of AIHRC, to ensure that its priorities and growth over the coming four years reflect both its institutional needs and the needs of rights holders in engaging the State and seeking redress for human rights violations. To promote a better technical understanding of the development of activities that fall under this strategy, JHRA provided key AIHRC personnel with a training on human rights-based approach (HRBA) to development coordination. JHRA has also supported activities to build a network of 54 NGOs that are coordinating with AIHRC to expand the watchdog mechanism.
- To activate the various components of the project to ensure the outcome statement of JHRA of building trust between the public and State justice providers, JHRA held a Project Steering Committee Meeting on 4 March in which the 2014 Annual Work Plan (AWP) and supporting Procurement, Human Resource and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plans were approved.