Enhancing community engagement with the formal Afghan justice system for improved results was at the heart of a UNAMA-backed televised panel discussion in south-eastern Khost province.
More than 70 participants, including experts in legal and judicial affairs, government officials, representatives of civil society and the media, and university students attended the event which was co-sponsored by local Gharghast TV.
The event -- covered widely by local media -- aimed to promote greater awareness of the country’s legal and judicial system, encourage local communities to make use of formal dispute resolution mechanisms and to provide a space for discussion about the rule of law.
A lack of awareness and understanding of the justice system was highlighted as one of the major challenges for people being able to resolve their own cases through the formal justice system.
Faizullah Zaland, a legal affairs expert, said that this lack of public awareness was a major reason behind what he considered to be weak rule of law in Khost. He urged public officials to increase their efforts to educate the public, such as through interviews with the media.
Amir Bahir, a lecturer at Shekikh Zayed University, said it was important for people to know about their rights so that they could exercise them.
Mr. Bahir said that government had a key role to play in enabling the community to access justice, by ensuring the rule of law. He encouraged people to use the formal justice system, which guaranteed their full rights and whose decisions could not be broken. Not all disputes could be resolved through informal means.
Zohra Jalal, a women’s rights activist and member of the provincial council, encouraged men and women should work together when it comes to ensuring the rule of law in the province.
Khost province – which is more than 60 per cent mountainous -- and shares a border with Pakistan to the east. Fruit and nuts are the largest single agricultural products, while families typically keep farm animals and rely on remittances from family members working abroad to supplement their income.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides good offices; promotes coherent development support by the international community; supports the process of peace and reconciliation; monitors and promotes human rights and the protection of civilians in armed conflict; promotes good governance; and encourages regional cooperation