Afghanistan Program Overview

The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) and the international community to reform the Afghan criminal justice system, achieve sustainable reductions in narcotics production and trafficking, and address the cross-cutting issues of gender affairs, demand reduction, and multilateral cooperation.

INL Afghanistan: Key Program Areas

Administration of Justice
Assistance to Afghan Women
Demand Reduction
Multilateral and Regional Engagement

Administration of Justice

INL supports the Government of Afghanistan’s formal justice sector in building strong, capable and independent legal institutions, building the capacity of Afghan ministries to enforce the rule of law, and provide security, justice and consistency of expectation to the people of Afghanistan.

The primary capacity building vehicle of INL’s criminal justice assistance is the Justice Sector Support Program (JSSP), which began in 2005. It addresses all the capacity building elements set out in the National Justice Program adopted by the international community and Afghan government in 2008: Effective and Professional Institutions, Infrastructure and Equipment, Legal Education and Training, Legislative Framework, Integrated Justice Services, and Public Awareness and Access to Justice.

Focused on creating close partnerships between JSSP advisors and Afghan government officials, the program’s main goal is to help create sustainable improvements in the Afghan government’s supply of justice to the Afghan people. Together, we have trained over 2,000 Afghan investigators, prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys within the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Attorney General’s Office (AGO), Ministry of Interior (MOI) and the Supreme Court. Today, there are 93 Afghan legal experts and 65 American advisors working in JSSP, a significant increase from its starting point of six Americans in 2005.

Case Management System: Developed by JSSP personnel in partnership with Afghan ministry officials, the Case Management System (CMS) tracks criminal cases from the stages of arrest to incarceration, reducing opportunities for corruption and denial of individual constitutional rights to occur. After the Afghan government officials piloted the CMS in Kabul correctional facilities, they discovered 128 inmates had over-served their sentences, in some cases by years, but remained in detention because their files had fallen through the cracks. INL worked with the Afghan government to fix the administrative files and release inmates who had served their sentences fully.

Through JSSP, INL works with the Ministry of Interior, Attorney General’s Office, Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Independent National Legal Training Center.

Corrections Development: Soon after the inception of JSSP, INL realized that a separate effort focused specifically on the Afghan corrections system was needed; therefore, in early 2006, INL started the Corrections System Support Program (CSSP). CSSP partners with the MOJ’s Central Prison Directorate (CPD) to build a safe, secure, and humane prison system that meets international standards and Afghan cultural requirements. CSSP is comprised of over 60 U.S. and over 100 Afghan advisors across seven provinces. In 2010, INL expanded CSSP to also work with the MOI on its district detention centers as well as the MOJ’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Directorate. CSSP’s main components are CPD headquarters capacity building, basic and advanced nationwide training, infrastructure program management, advising the provincial prison leadership on secure and humane corrections practices, and providing mentoring and support at the Counter-Narcotics Justice Center.

Two key themes of CSSP are Afghanization and sustainability. All CSSP initiatives are done in partnership with the Afghan government and with the long-term goal of enabling the Afghan government to operate its corrections system safely, securely, and humanely with increasing limited assistance from international partners.

One illustrative example of CSSP’s implementation of these key themes is the basic Afghan correctional officers training program. Drawing upon correctional best practices, CSSP advisors developed a basic correctional officers training program in conjunction with the Afghan Government. During the first training classes, CSSP trainers identified the best CPD students and instructed them in a Train-the-Trainers course. Currently, approximately 90 percent of the CPD basic training courses are taught by Afghan CPD officers, with CSSP trainers serving in an oversight advisory role.

Accomplishments: With CPD, CSSP has trained over 90 percent of Afghan prison personnel and alleviated overcrowding in 13 provincial prisons. Emergency Response Training enabled the CPD to regain control of Pol-i-Charkhi prison from insurgent inmates two years ago. INL also has a corrections construction program, which includes an extensive renovation of Pol-i-Charkhi prison.

Major Crimes and Anti-Corruption: Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) and Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF): INL supports specially vetted units of Afghan investigators and prosecutors pursuing corruption, narcotics, and kidnapping cases by providing them with secure office space, training, advisory and operational support, and equipment.

Legal Education: INL supports a number of curriculum development programs, partnering with institutions such as Stanford Law School and the University of Washington’s School of Law to implement projects to enrich the next generation of Afghan legal scholars and practitioners in Afghanistan.

Traditional Dispute Resolution: The majority of Afghan citizens settle their disputes through the informal justice sector, which is a traditional system of conflict resolution implemented at the local level. To help the Afghan government develop a national policy on the linkages between the informal and formal justice sectors, and diminish the risk of human rights abuses, INL funds a multi-year research program implemented by the U.S. Institute for Peace.


Date: 2010 Description: Shura in Arghandab, Kandahar Province. - State Dept Image
Shura in Arghandab, Kandahar Province.

The United States supports the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s (GIRoA) National Drug Control Strategy and is working closely with GIRoA and our coalition partners to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to the drug problem in Afghanistan. The new U.S. strategy targets narcotics traffickers and drug lords, while enhancing our focus on agriculture, interdiction, demand reduction, public information, and the rule of law.

INL’s Afghanistan programs are carried out in collaboration with interagency and international partners, and support critical aspects of GIRoA’s counternarcotics efforts. INL provides capacity building support to Afghan institutions, including the Ministry of Counternarcotics, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Attorney General’s Office, and key provincial governments in the form of advising and training for Afghan staff.

Key Program Areas

  • Public Information: Counternarcotics Public Information (CNPI) programs
  • Demand Reduction: INL-sponsored treatment centers provide residential, outpatient, and home-based assistance to an estimated 7,500+ addicts per year, including services exclusively for women and their children, as well as adolescents
  • Elimination: Good Performers Initiative (GPI) provides incentives to governors who discourage or otherwise drive down cultivation, while Governor Led Eradication (GLE) reimburses governors a nominal amount for the cost of eradicating poppy
  • Interdiction: Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA) receives funding for operations and maintenance support for the Technical Investigative Unit (TIU), National Interdiction Unit (NIU), and Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU)
  • Law Enforcement/Justice Reform: Afghan Counternarcotics Tribunal and Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF)

Assistance to Afghan Women

Overview: INL has been committed to advancing opportunities for women in Afghanistan since 2004, and has awarded over $28M in multi-year gender justice grants in 2011 alone, providing legal training and education, protective services, legal aid, drug treatment, and other services for women and children. Over 97 percent of INL gender justice program implementers are Afghan, many of them women. Programs support the Afghan government’s goals of building and sustaining a secure environment for women to live free from intimidation, fear and violence; and guaranteeing equal rights and protections for women under the law, as stated in the National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA).

Date: 2011 Description: Map shows INL Afghanistan Women's Programs: Drug Treatment Center; Legal Aid of Afghanistan Office; Violence Against Women Unit; Children's Services Center; Family Guidance Center & Shelter; Halfway House; Legal Advice Bureau; Young Lawyers Training Program; Transit Shelter; Women Judges' Training. - State Dept Image

Program Information

Violence Against Women (VAW) Units: VAW Units are specialized Afghan units dedicated to prosecuting crimes against women. Through a grant to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), INL supported three new provincial VAW Units (in Balkh, Kapisa and Kunduz) in 2011, and will support three more units in 2012. IDLO will also continue to strengthen the national VAW Unit at the Office of the Attorney General in Kabul, with INL support. The Kabul VAW Unit is staffed by 18 Afghan prosecutors, and has initiated over 580 cases from over 20 provinces since opening in 2010, resulting in five convictions so far, including one for murder.

Date: 2011 Description: Women discuss a case with the head prosecutor at the VAW Unit in Balkh province. - State Dept Image
Women discuss a case with the head prosecutor at the VAW Unit in Balkh province.

Legal Aid: INL funds Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan (LAOA) offices in 15 provinces, making LAOA defense attorneys available in 25 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. In 2010, LAOA provided legal aid to over 2,000 women and juveniles. INL also supports Global Rights’ Legal Aid Bureaus for women seeking to access the formal justice system at Family Law Courts in four provinces, and provides legal aid services at all six INL-funded Afghan shelters for victims of gender crimes. .

Shelters for Women and Children: The USG, through INL, is the single largest donor to women’s shelters in Afghanistan, funding 6 of 14 total shelters (in Badakhshan, Faryab, Kabul, Kapisa, Kunduz and Saripul). INL also funds two Children’s Support Centers (in Balkh and Kunduz) to provide housing, education and essential services to children of incarcerated women, and opened a Halfway House in Kabul for women transitioning out of shelters. In August 2011, INL contributed $6.3M to the Colombo Plan, an international organization, to establish the international Afghan Women’s Shelter Fund, which will provide support to shelters and launch emergency initiatives, including a 24-hour national hotline and crisis fund for victims of gender violence. Combined, INL’s shelter programs benefit over 1,000 women and children each year.

Date: 2011 Description: Women for Afghan Women open a shelter in Badakhshan province. - State Dept Image
Women for Afghan Women open a shelter in Badakhshan province.

Legal Education: INL has sponsored professional exchanges for Afghan women judges since 2004, and provides Afghan women judges with specialized legal training and networking opportunities, in addition to comprehensive computer and English courses at the Kabul court center. INL also supports legal fellowships, and gender justice and family law curriculum development for Afghan Law and Sharia students at universities in Herat, Nangarhar and Balkh provinces. In addition, nine women have matriculated from the University of Washington Afghan Legal Educators LLM Program, out of over 40 total graduates.

Justice Sector and Corrections System Support: Through INL’s Justice Sector and Corrections System Support Programs, Gender Justice Advisors conduct specialized training for legal professionals and Afghan officials on women’s rights. In 2010, 284 women participated in justice trainings and events. Corrections advisors have trained 133 female Afghan corrections officers. INL also provides a dedicated mentor to the women’s prison in Kabul, where over 130 women are incarcerated.

Women’s Drug Treatment: INL funds six residential drug treatment centers for women and adjacent centers for their children (in Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Badakhshan, Farah and Nangarhar). INL trains Afghan women addiction counselors and is developing a gender-responsive substance abuse treatment curriculum.

Date: 2011 Description: Recovering addicts learn carpet weaving in Herat province. - State Dept Image
Recovering addicts learn carpet weaving in Herat province.

Demand Reduction

War-torn for almost 30 years, while simultaneously producing the vast majority of the world's illicit opium, Afghanistan has been deeply affected by drug use. The UN recently estimated that almost 4 percent of the Afghan population is addicted to drugs. INL has been assisting Afghanistan since 2003 to address this growing need, especially among vulnerable populations.

Date: 2010 Description: A  group of young boys in an INL-funded and Colombo Plan-administered drug treatment center for women and children recovering from opium addiction. - State Dept Image
A group of young boys in an INL-funded and Colombo Plan-administered drug treatment center for women and children recovering from opium addiction.

Residential/Outpatient Treatment Centers: INL has established and supported sixteen (16) combination residential/outpatient treatment programs which also provide home-based treatment for women in the provinces of Kabul, Wardak, Takhar, Khost, Bamyan, Day Kundi, Badakhshan, Helmand, Kandahar, and Paktya; six residential treatment centers for women and six adjacent residential treatment centers for their children in Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, and Farah; and two adolescent male treatment centers in Herat and Jowzjan. In total, INL supports treatment to over 7,500 Afghans per year, contributing to the country’s total current treatment capacity of 10,000 Afghans per year.

Treatment for Women, Adolescents and Children: INL actively supports the expansion of treatment programs for Afghanistan's women, who comprise almost 15 percent of the country's drug addicts. Female and child addiction have been underreported in surveys of Afghanistan’s drug use because of the stigma related to female and child addiction as well as limited access to women and children. In response, INL will conduct the first scientific study of national drug use in Afghanistan using forensic techniques – hair, urine, and saliva samples – surveying 2,000 individuals in 22 provinces. The survey will be completed by 2012.

The Ministry of Public Health and NGO treatment providers have also anecdotally reported an ever-increasing addictions problem among adolescents aged 6 to 16, particularly in Herat province. Furthermore, heroin and opium-addicted toddlers (aged 2 to 4) and children (aged 6) have been medically documented in INL-funded treatment programs for women and children in Kabul and Balkh provinces. In addition, an INL-funded study on the effects of second-hand opium smoke on children using toxicological samples – hair, saliva and urine – uncovered concentrations of opiates in children well above those documented in adults in other countries. Children in the INL-funded women and children’s treatment centers, combined with those tested in their homes in the second-hand smoke study, represent the youngest sub-population of drug addicts identified worldwide.

As such, no clinical or treatment protocols have ever been developed for this age group. With INL support, UNODC, in collaboration with the World Health Organization, National Institute on Drug Abuse, and researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Medical University of Vienna are developing the first protocols worldwide for treatment of children with substance abuse that will address the growing problem of child addiction in Afghanistan.

Mosque-Based Centers: INL has conducted drug awareness seminars for religious leaders since 2003. Over 500 mullahs have been trained at one time on the problems of drug addiction and how to conduct community shuras on the dangers of drug consumption, including drug production and trafficking. Mullahs have also been assisted in opening outreach/drop-in centers in their mosques to provide brief intervention services for addiction, referral to treatment, and aftercare services for ex-addicts who have completed treatment. Religious leaders are now a major source of referral of addicts into treatment.

For more information on demand reduction programs in Afghanistan, please visit: //

Date: 2010 Description: Map of Afghanistan: INL-Funded Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs. - State Dept Image
Afghanistan: INL-Funded Drug Treatment and Prevention Programs.

Multilateral and Regional Engagement

Strategy and Objectives: The U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy for Afghanistan calls upon U.S. agencies to work with international organizations and Afghanistan’s regional neighbors to further disrupt the insurgency-narcotics network and prevent safe havens in the region. INL’s assistance through multilateral institutions also supports the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy’s core goal of improving Afghanistan’s international and regional counternarcotics cooperation.

Key Multilateral Forums and Implementing Partners

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The United States strongly supports the role of the UN in helping the Afghan government and people as they rebuild their country. In support of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s mandate, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides specialized and technical expertise to the Afghan government on counternarcotics, governance, human security, rule of law, and public health issues. As of April 2010, UNODC coordinated an Afghanistan programmatic budget of almost $82 million in national, regional, and global programming, with staff located in Kabul and five key provinces.

UNODC also develops and publishes the annual UNODC Opium Cultivation Survey as an authoritative resource on illicit cultivation levels in Afghanistan. In 2009, with support from the U.S. Department of State, UNODC also published a report on the linkages between narcotics, corruption, and insurgency in Afghanistan and across the opiate trade route.

Paris Pact Initiative
UNODC has been a longstanding advocate for a regional approach to tackle the flow of Afghan heroin. Launched by UNODC and the Government of France in 2003, the Paris Pact Initiative brings together 56 UN member states and 14 international organizations to examine trends in supply and consumption of Afghan heroin, promote regional cooperation, and coordinate technical assistance for supply, transit, and destination countries. Through the Paris Pact, UNODC convenes regular expert- and policy-level meetings each year to consolidate donor assistance and formulate policy recommendations.

Commission on Narcotic Drugs
Established in 1946 by the UN Economic and Social Council, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the central policy-making body of the United Nations on drug-related matters. The CND analyzes the global drug situation, oversees scheduling of substances under international control, and supervises UNODC’s global efforts to monitor implementation of the three international drug control conventions and provide technical and capacity-building assistance. The United States works through the CND to define priorities for international assistance to Afghanistan and its neighbors, consolidate global support for the work of Afghanistan to combat the flow of narcotics funding to the insurgency, and affirm a regional response to the Afghan opiate trade.

Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC)
CARICC is a regional law enforcement center located in Almaty, Kazakhstan that facilitates information exchange, trend analysis, and operational coordination in countering transnational crime, including the flow of Afghan opiates through Central Asia. Implemented by UNODC, CARICC member states include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the Russian Federation. The United States holds observer status with CARICC.

Operation TARCET
In 2009, UNODC launched Operation TARCET II, an anti-trafficking initiative to prevent the smuggling of precursor chemicals to Afghanistan for use in the illicit manufacture of heroin. Earlier TARCET operations in 2008 resulted in seizures in Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan of over 19 tons of acetic anhydride, as well as over 27 tons of other illicit chemicals - an amount sufficient to produce over 9 tons of heroin with a retail value of over $600 million in European markets.

Colombo Plan
The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific was established in 1951 to promote self-help and mutual-help in development among its member states. Through INL, the United States has provided voluntary funding since 2005 to the Colombo Plan’s Drug Advisory Program, which provides technical assistance to the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics’ provincial outreach, public information, and demand reduction programs.

Date: 2010 Description: Students perform the Afghan National Anthem at the Afghan Youth Congress, implemented by the Colombo Plan. - State Dept Image
Students perform the Afghan National Anthem at the Afghan Youth Congress, implemented by the Colombo Plan.

NATO-Russia Council (NRC)
Since 2005, NATO allies and the Russian Federation have affirmed the importance of NATO cooperation with Russia to combat the shared threat of Afghan narcotics. The United States has provided funding to support NRC counternarcotics training in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan for over 1,200 law enforcement personnel from Central Asia and Afghanistan.

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Since 2006, INL funding to IOM has provided assistance to Tajikistan’s Border Guards and facilitated cooperation with their Afghan counterparts serving at border checkpoints in the Badakhshan region. Upcoming IOM efforts will jointly train Afghan and Tajik border officials; strengthen national training curricula and educators; and provide document examination, language skills, and digital records equipment.

Dublin Group
The Dublin Group is an informal body set up in 1990 to coordinate international counternarcotics assistance. The Group’s membership includes EU Member States, EU Commission, EU Council Secretariat, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, the United States, and UNODC. Semi-annual plenary meetings of the Central Dublin Group review global donor assistance on counternarcotics, and work of the Mini-Dublin Groups, which facilitate donor cooperation, including in Afghanistan and Pakistan.