Stitched up in Herat: UNDP helps free taxi driver from false accusation

The Legal Aid Grant Facility provides free legal assistance to women, children and the poorest men on cases ranging from domestic violence and rape to inheritance disputes, divorce and child protection issues. Photo © UNDP Afghanistan / JHRA / 2014

Herat, 15 February 2016 — Twenty-three-year-old Noor Ahmad drives a motorbike in Herat to support his family. His father has two wives and two sets of children, which is common in parts of Afghanistan. One day, rivalries between these two sides of the one family boiled over. It nearly pulled his life apart.

“I got a call from my stepmother while I was working,” recalls Noor Ahmad. “She said my stepbrother had had an accident and he needed to pay 60 USD in compensation.”

So Noor Ahmad went straight to the police station to help his stepbrother out. And he walked straight into a trap.  

Highlights

  • Noor Ahmad’s stepbrother was caught stealing a mobile phone and some cash – and he named Noor Ahmad as his accomplice.
  • He spent 10 days in police custody, where he was beaten up until he confessed.
  • Noor Ahmad was assigned a free defence lawyer by UNDP and eventually was able to get justice.
  • UNDP has worked on nearly 3,000 cases in 8 provinces, helping women, children and impoverished men.

Police arrested Noor Ahmad as soon as he showed up. He was stunned, but eventually he found out what had happened: his stepbrother had been caught stealing a mobile phone and some cash – and he’d named Noor Ahmad as his accomplice.

The problem for Noor Ahmad was that he’d been too successful. He worked hard and had a decent, stable job, while his stepbrother had gone off the rails. After racking up several arrests for theft, this time the stepbrother wanted to bring Noor Ahmad down with him.

Noor Ahmad spent 10 days in police custody, where he was beaten up until he confessed. He couldn’t afford a lawyer, but he knew that UNDP’s Legal Aid Grant Facility provides free legal assistance to women, children and men who are in dire straits. So he gave them a ring. 

Lawyer Reza Pezhoheshgar met with Noor Ahmad, the police and the robbery victim. Then he presented such a compelling case that the court dismissed the charges against Noor Ahmad. His stepbrother, meanwhile, was sentenced to several months inside.

“If the Legal Aid Grant Facility hadn’t helped me, I could have gone to prison for months or even longer,” said Noor Ahmad.

In fact, based on Afghan law, he could have been looking at several months behind bars. But now he’s back at work and getting on with his life.

The Legal Aid Grant Facility is part of UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights for Afghanistan project (JHRA). Across Afghanistan, the Facility has worked on nearly 3,000 cases in eight provinces.

JHRA is funded by Italian Cooperation, Denmark, Swiss Development Cooperation and UNDP core fund.

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