In 2005, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) established the Afghanistan Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP). The mission of JSSP is to build the capacity of Afghan criminal justice sector institutions through improving the ability of their professional staff to deliver fair and effective justice services to citizens. JSSP advisors train and mentor justice officials, restructure criminal justice institutions, develop legal education and training, and improve court administration and facilities.
The early years of the program focused primarily on building police and prosecutor capacity, and in strengthening the Attorney General’s Office. While the JSSP regional program was designed to focus on training, mentoring, and quick impact projects, it was soon expanded through the deployment of teams of experienced prosecutors to work at the provincial level to improve police and prosecutor skills through a formal training program of academic instruction and practical exercises followed by in-service mentoring.
By 2007, the training and mentoring program was continued for prosecutors and police investigators in Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar, and Kunduz. As prosecutor graduates returned to their positions and received mentoring and specialized training, the JSSP regional teams provided material assistance (investigative tools, office furnishings, communications equipment, transportation resources, office supplies and other equipment) to allow prosecutors to implement what they had learned in class.
From 2008 to 2013, in response to identified needs, the program grew to encompass training, mentoring, and institutional strengthening for justice ministries in Kabul and all 34 provinces. Throughout that time, the training and mentoring that took place reached over 14,000 justice actors in all of Afghanistan.
Where JSSP Works
JSSP is a multi-pronged effort to develop and strengthen the capacity of the Afghan criminal justice sector institutions and justice professionals. JSSP, through capacity building, technical advice, and direct assistance, helps the justice institutions and the justice professionals perform their respective roles in delivering fair and effective justice services to the citizens of Afghanistan. In addition to working with justice institutions, JSSP works on a variety of projects designed to promote access to a fair and effective justice system.
To implement systemic justice sector reforms and build capacity in Afghanistan, JSSP has focused its efforts with various Afghan Ministries and Institutions.
The Ministry of Justice: Working with the Ministry and embedding Afghan advisors within the Ministry, JSSP has assisted the Ministry by participating in legislative drafting working groups that have resulted in the Ministry modernizing its administrative functions; supporting the National Legal Awareness Strategy; training professional members to effectively draft and develop legislation, policies, strategies, and work plans such as the “National Action Plan on Combating Human Trafficking for the 2013 -2014”.
The Attorney General’s Office: Together with the Attorney General’s Office and related institutions, JSSP has worked to improve integrity and credibility to investigations and criminal prosecutions nationwide to strengthen their capacity to function efficiently, fairly, and independently. For example, JSSP participated in the creation of the Office’s Education and Training Committee and the Afghan Prosecutors Association and helped the Human Resources Department in implementing administrative Pay and Grading Reforms required by Afghanistan’s Independent Administrative Reform Civil Service Commission.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs: JSSP embedded advisors provide technical assistance, capacity building and direct assistance through training, mentoring and advising to support gender mainstreaming, strengthen capacity to advocate on behalf of the women of Afghanistan, and sustain the Ministry’s efforts to advance women’s rights, protection and equality. JSSP supports the Ministry to implement gender programming, the Victim Witness Assistance Program, initiatives to eliminate violence against women, and works directly with the Huquq Department and Gender Capacity Building Unit to effectively implement their mandate and aid them in eventually becoming sustainable.
The Ministry of Interior: Working with the several departments in the Ministry of Interior, including the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Centers, JSSP has expanded the criminal case management system (CMS) to 28 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and 33 of its provincial prisons. CMS tracks criminal cases from the time of arrest to the release from prison. The expansion of CMS increases the transparency and accountability of the criminal justice system in Afghanistan for the Ministry of Interior and all other entities. CMS also serves as a multifaceted tool for improving human rights protections, tracking trafficking in persons cases, and resource allocation for criminal justice entities.
Supreme Court of Afghanistan: JSSP develops and delivers training and mentoring to address administrative, operational and training capacity of the Supreme Court. These interventions aim to improve Supreme Court’s capacity in functional areas such as planning, budgeting, procurement, communication and reporting, ethics, and pay and grade; and to create a platform within the Supreme Court to manage and administer continuing legal education training. JSSP continues to develop and foster Supreme Court capacity to manage, administer and implement required training programs.
JSSP also concentrates its efforts on cross-cutting issues:
Gender Justice: JSSP promotes gender justice initiatives by providing training, mentoring, and advisory services/support to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs; the Ministry of Interior Affairs and its Department of Gender, Child and Human Rights and Family Response Units; and the Attorney General’s Office’s Elimination of Violence Against Women Unit. Projects illustrative of these efforts include the development of the first Victim Witness Assistance Pilot Project whose objective is to ensure that victims of crimes receive the rights that they are entitled to by law and that both government and non-governmental agencies provide the necessary services; membership in the Afghan National Police Female Recruitment Steering Committee, which, in a 5-year period (2007-2012), helped facilitate the increase of female police officers almost eight-fold, from 240 to 1,850.
Juvenile Justice: Training and mentoring sessions conducted by JSSP assist judicial personnel in handling juvenile cases more effectively so as to improve their performance in search, seizure, and investigation techniques.
Access to Justice: Initiating the institution building vital to establish sustainable rule of law begins with creating awareness among justice actors of the importance of the rule of law and access to justice as a basic human right. In this regard, JSSP developed the Case Management System and the Legal Education Training Advisors program.
Case Management System (CMS) tracks the status of criminal cases in Afghanistan across all criminal justice institutions, from the moment a case is initiated to the end of confinement. The purpose of the CMS is to organize and safeguard sensitive case information, create coordination between investigative, legal and judicial organizations, create transparency and accountability, simplify access of legal practitioners to the information of criminal cases from all over Afghanistan, as well as to ensure accurate and timely implementation of the law during the processing of cases. Since inception of CMS in March 2011, more than 9,000 defendants have been released to date thanks to CMS.
Legal Education and Training Advisors (LETA) extensive library consists of more than 60 comprehensive training packages that are translated into Dari and Pashtu. LETA supported Training of Trainers, Master Training of Trainers courses, Alternatives to Incarceration training, and Ethics training for the Afghan Government and Afghan Institutions.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Team (M&E) records JSSP’s history and verifies the outputs and outcomes from JSSP’s efforts to provide support for nationwide justice services for Afghan citizens. M&E is an important management tool that is used to improve the way JSSP achieves results.
JSSP continues to work closely with its partners in implementing training and mentoring in the regions as well as increasing administrative capacity building in the justice ministries so as to facilitate and increase access to justice for all Afghan citizens.