6 August 2008 The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has welcomed the newly-established Afghan Independent Bar Association, which it called an important step in promoting justice and due process in the fledgling democracy.
Christina Gynna Oguz, UNODC Representative in Afghanistan, congratulated the authorities, in particular the Ministry of Justice, and the Afghan people for taking a major stride towards “promoting meaningful access to legal representation and justice for all persons regardless of their ethnic, economic or social condition.”
Ms. Oguz also urged the representatives of the newly-established body “to increase public understanding of and respect for the law, the legal process, and the role of the legal profession and to preserve the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary, which is fundamental to a democratic society.”
The Afghan Independent Bar Association has the distinction of being one of the only bar associations in the world with mandatory pro bono requirements for criminal cases and a quota for women on the leadership and all committees.
UNODC, in cooperation with the International Bar Association (IBA) and with the financial support of the Government of Italy, assisted the Afghan Ministry of Justice in organizing and hosting the group’s first General Assembly meeting in late July.
The gathering brought together registered lawyers and advocates from all over the country and was tasked with adopting the by-laws and electing the President as well as other representatives of the Association.
UNODC has also developed a database that will contain relevant information about registered lawyers in Afghanistan, and plans to conduct a training course on its use for the Association’s administrative staff.
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