The U.S. Contributes $12.1 Million to IDLO to Improve Legal Services in Afghanistan

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 21, 2010

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has contributed $12.1 million to the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) to fund the two-year program: “Supporting the National Justice Sector Strategy of Afghanistan: Improving Security, Legal Rights and Legal Services for the Afghan People.”

IDLO has operated in Afghanistan since 2001. In 2006, IDLO established the Legal Aid Organization of Afghanistan (LAOA), which currently has offices in 16 provinces, employs over 100 personnel, and last year provided legal representation to over 2,000 Afghan women and children. IDLO has supported the Independent National Legal Training Center (INLTC) since its inception and recently partnered with the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to establish Afghanistan’s first Violence Against Women Unit, a specialized unit dedicated to prosecuting offenses against the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law.

Key objectives for the INL-funded IDLO program are to:

Expand and improve legal aid services to the poor and disempowered: The program’s main objective is to expand access to justice for Afghan citizens nationwide. Under this program, LAOA plans to increase the number of its field offices and expand the reach of its activities to ensure that Afghans have access to legal representation in every province of the country.

Increase public awareness of legal issues, rights and services: The program includes a comprehensive public awareness component to disseminate key information on legal issues and services. This component will be implemented in partnership with the Afghan Ministry of Justice, among other Afghan Government stakeholders and local partners, and will strengthen the INLTC, which serves a valuable role as the convener of legal practitioners in Afghanistan.

Improve the investigation and prosecution of crimes against women and girls: In partnership with the AGO, the program includes a specialized component for IDLO to establish Violence Against Women Units in six Afghan provinces. These units are dedicated to prosecuting gender violence, and will serve as a hub for gender-related legal issues.

The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) is an intergovernmental organization that promotes legal, regulatory and institutional reform to advance economic and social development in transitional and developing countries. Founded in 1983 and one of the pioneers of rule of law assistance, IDLO uses its access to governments and interest groups of different backgrounds, as well as its expertise and vast stakeholder network, to create opportunity for those most in need.

PRN: 2010/1845