07/02/2007, 00.00
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Conference on rule of law and justice system reform in Afghanistan opens in Rome

The two-day meeting begins today with officials from the UN, NATO, Afghanistan and 25 other countries. It is designed to get the international community to help reform the afghan legal system and fight corruption.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A conference on the rule of law and justice system reform in Afghanistan opens today in Rome. Afghan President Hamid Karzai should join senior officials from the United Nations, NATO, World Bank and delegates from about 25 countries, including the United States and Pakistan, in the Italian capital.

The conference which ends tomorrow will discuss how to strengthen Afghanistan's frail justice system six years after the fall of the Taliban regime.

Today’s schedule includes a session on technical matters. Tomorrow more political aspects will be addressed in a meeting that will include Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema, Afghan President Karzai, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

The current situation in the country is critical. Corruption is widespread and violence is growing. More and more Afghans have lost faith in the government and the multinational troops.

How to improve the justice and prison systems will be on the discussion table.

Some experts point out that there is corruption because the salaries are low. An average judge earns between 3,000 and 6,000 afghani a month, whereas rents are often four times as much. There are only 220 registered state defence lawyers for a population of about 30 million and only about 1,400 judges who are poorly trained, and new laws are not well understood.

According to a report issued in May by a board overseeing progress in the system, many of Afghanistan’s 437 courts do not have “buildings, furniture, or equipment necessary to perform even the most basic court functions.”

Italy, which is responsible for Afghan justice reform, has allocated US$ 13.47 for 2007 to that effect, especially in infrastructure and legal training.

Italy’s Foreign Ministry plans to add another US$ 11.18 million before the end of the year.

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