Panellists at UN-backed event discuss access to justice, rights of defendants

12 Sep 2016

Panellists at UN-backed event discuss access to justice, rights of defendants

KANDAHAR - Access to justice and the rights of defendants are key elements of rule of law, said panellists at a UN-backed TV debate in the southern city of Kandahar.  

A four-member panel -- involving a judge, a lawyer, the head of the city’s criminal branch and a representative of a law-focused NGO -- discussed issues related to rule of law and due process before an audience of around 40 university students, lecturers and local police officials.

The aim of the event was to raise the public’s knowledge and understanding of how the justice system works and how people can access their basic legal rights. The debate was broadcast via Hewad TV and Radio to an audience of around 400,000 people throughout the province.

Panellist Mohammad Tariq Najam, a judge at Kandahar city court, said for the rule of law to be implemented effectively, legal institutions must perform in accordance with the constitution and relevant laws.

“It is important that the justice and executive bodies understand their roles and responsibilities in the due process,” said Mr. Najam.

Another panellist, Mohammad Wali Askar, who is head of Kandahar’s criminal branch, said that the function of police is to serve the citizens of Kandahar according to the law. It is essential that the public cooperate with police in the fight against crime.

Mr. Askar said that in the context of Islam and Sharia law, religious preachers and the media should help raise awareness about the dangers associated with criminal activity.

Sayeda Ahmadi, a panellist and university lecturer, highlighted the need for more women to work in Kandahar as defence lawyers and judges. For this to happen, she said, law-related organizations must recruit more women.  

Kandahar province, located in southern Afghanistan, shares an international border with Pakistan. It is largely rural and agricultural, and is home to a number of ethnic groups.

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.