July 12, 2007 14:00 ET

Canada's New Government Reinforces its Commitment to Enhance Justice and the Rule of Law in Afghanistan

QUEBEC CITY, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - July 12, 2007) - The Honourable Josee Verner, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie and Official Languages, announced today that Canada will provide additional support to promote the rule of law and an effective justice system in Afghanistan, by providing $8 million for new projects being implemented by the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA), Rights & Democracy and CANADEM.

"Today, Canada's New Government is partnering with trusted organizations to help Afghanistan make crucial legal reforms and build a sustainable foundation for the promotion of justice and the rule of law," said Minister Verner. "Canada's funding will help extend the scope of legal-judicial reform in Afghanistan to reach the most disadvantaged, including women and some of the most vulnerable elements of society."

The ICDAA, in collaboration with the International Legal Foundation-Afghanistan (ILF-A), has been providing legal aid services to Afghanistan's poor since 2003. With the $2.9 million announced today, the ICDAA and ILF-A will create a nationalized, Afghan-run legal aid service provider that can operate independently. Funding will also help the organizations engage the Afghan Ministry of Justice to develop a national policy on legal aid.

Canada's contribution of $5 million to Rights & Democracy will help implement a key project to promote legal and policy reforms necessary to improve the status of women by mobilizing opinion leaders, advocates and public authorities in both urban and rural areas on a range of women rights and family law issues. The project will seek to build local capacity to conduct research, advocate for family law reform and help raise public awareness.

Finally, the $680,000 disbursed to CANADEM will assist in the ongoing deployment of an Advisor who provides strategic advice to the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI) regarding the enhancement of the role and representation of female police officers in both the MOI and the Afghan National Police. The Advisor will help develop and replicate family response units within police stations and develop a training program for female police officers to patrol women's parks.

Today's announcement builds on the progress achieved at the Conference on the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, held in Rome on July 2 and 3, 2007, where Canada announced over $30 million in funds and projects to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan. At this conference, representatives of the Afghan government and international community met to discuss the adoption of a comprehensive and coherent approach for strengthening justice and the rule of law in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government's commitment to enhancing justice and the rule of law is enshrined in the country's National Development Strategy and is also an important strategic focus of Government of Canada programming. Since 2002, Canadian diplomats, corrections officers, police and justice experts have provided assistance to the Afghan justice system to help establish rule of law as well as international human rights standards and practices.

The more than $8 million announced today is part of Canada's total contribution of more than $1 billion over 10 years aimed at governance, security and reconstruction in Afghanistan. For more information on Canada's programming in Afghanistan, please refer to CIDA's website at


Canada's New Government, through a strengthened partnership with the International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA), Rights & Democracy and CANADEM, will enhance justice and the rule of law in Afghanistan.

International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association

The International Criminal Defence Attorneys Association (ICDAA) is a non-profit organization that advocates for a strengthening of the defence component of the international criminal justice system and supports the development of more fair and equitable justice systems in post-conflict societies. Through a $2.9 million contribution from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the ICDAA is working in collaboration with the New York-based International Legal Foundation (ILF) to deliver legal aid to indigents in Afghanistan.

The project will seek to further increase the capacity of Afghan criminal defence lawyers and sensitize the legal community to the need to respect the rule of law and human rights. The ILF-Afghanistan currently has 5 offices across the country, employing a total of 28 Afghan defence lawyers.

As the project enters its third phase, the emphasis will be placed on the long-term sustainability of legal aid in Afghanistan and the ILF-A as an independent Afghan NGO. To this end, the ILF and the ICDAA will continue to engage the Afghan government and the international community in articulating a long-term strategy to ensure the financial viability of ILF-A as a key component in the criminal justice system. The project will officially end in March 2010.

Rights & Democracy

Rights & Democracy is a Canadian human rights organization. With Canada's commitment of $5 million, the organization will be positioned to help the Afghan Government build on its commitment to improve the situation of women and girls, as manifested by its National Action Plan for Women (NAPWA).

Canada's funding will help Rights & Democracy implement a key initiative to promote the legal and policy reform necessary to improve the status of women in Afghanistan. The initiative's three main objectives are to:

- Support Afghan civil society to advocate for the progressive reform of family law and the implementation and use of the new national marriage contract;

- Promote greater respect of women's rights at the community level; and

- Support Afghan civil society organizations to become effective women's rights defenders.

This will be achieved by mobilizing both people in positions of authority and at the popular level in urban and rural areas. Such a comprehensive approach will ensure the long-term sustainability of legal reforms.

The new initiative builds on Rights & Democracy's previous work on women's rights in Afghanistan.


CANADEM is an Ottawa-based non-governmental organization that promotes international peace and security, human rights and the responsibility to protect. Canada's contribution of $680,000 to CANADEM will provide further funding for a Canadian Gender Advisor to the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MOI).

The Gender Advisor contributes advice, information, guidance and recommendations on a number of important gender measures, including the establishment of a Gender Unit at the MOI, the development of a recruitment strategy for women, and the successful establishment of a family violence team staffed by policewomen at a model police station in Kabul.

Funding of this position will help consolidate the results generated to date evolve towards the ultimate goal of enhancing female representation within the MOI and Afghan National Police (ANP) and providing better policing services to the female population of Afghanistan.

In particular, funding will help the Gender Advisor advise the MOI, the ANP and other key actors in the police sector on the further development and replication of family response units (FRU) located at some police stations and staffed by female police officers. The Gender Advisor will also assist in the development of a training program for female police officers to patrol women's parks, which are public spaces exclusively for women established in urban centres.

Furthermore, the Gender Advisor will advise on the development of a pilot initiative to set up patrol units at girl schools where female police officers could provide lectures on security, legal and policing matters and give counsel on family violence issues.

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Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
    Nicole Lascelle
    Director of communications
    Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
    Media Relations Office
    819-953-6534 (electronic version of document)