Afghanistan’s new penal code the focus of Maidan Wardak symposium
MAIDAN SHAR - Improved access to justice is essential to socio-political stability and economic development, said participants at a recent UN-backed symposium set up to discuss implementing Afghanistan’s new penal code in the central province of Maidan Wardak.
The event, organized ahead of the start of Ramadan by UNAMA’s central regional office, served as a forum where legal and judicial professionals could discuss specific articles of the new penal code and agree on practical steps for implementing them at the provincial level.
The event brought together some 50 participants from the justice sector along with other officials, including Provincial Governor Mohammad Arif Shah Jahan.
Governor Jahan said that the symposium might not address all challenges in implementing the new penal code, but noted that the discussion will open the door to more fruitful planning.
“Equally applied law, without discrimination, contributes to the legitimacy of the government,” he stressed.
Speaking at the event, the head of the provincial appeals court, Sidiqullah Haqiqi, said it is important to identify the challenges in implementing the new penal code, particularly in the area of new provisions that are open to interpretation. He noted that addressing the challenges will require coordination and cooperation across the legal and judicial organizations in the province.
“Correct, unbiased enforcement of the law contributes to social stability,” he told participants. “It is your professional, moral and social obligation to do so.”
The participants agreed to carry forward the discussion about the penal code in future meetings, and to draw in more of those in the province whose work it is to interpret and apply the new code.
Maidan Wardak, one of the six provinces making up the central region of Afghanistan, is home to some 500,000 residents, most of whom work in agriculture in the mostly mountainous and rural province that is situated to the west of Kabul.
The event in Maidan Wardak’s provincial capital, which was covered by local media outlets and later broadcast to audiences in and around Maidan Shar, is part of UNAMA’s country-wide approach to creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on critical issues affecting their communities.
UNAMA is mandated to support the Afghan Government and the people of Afghanistan as a political mission that provides 'good offices' among other key services. 'Good offices' are diplomatic steps that the UN takes publicly and in private, drawing on its independence, impartiality and integrity, to prevent national and international disputes from arising, escalating or spreading.
UNAMA also promotes coherent development support by the international community; assists 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.