Volunteers from 10 provinces share experiences of monitoring open trials

Rasool Ehsany, Integrity Watch Afghanistan

On June 12, 2019, Integrity Watch as part of its advocacy and program activities organized an ‘Exchange of Experiences of Judicial Activities’ in Kabul Province, for volunteers and local civil society organizations.  The purpose of the event was to educate volunteers about effective advocacy and program management in order to exchange ideas about monitoring of open trials.

Sayed Ikram Afzali the Executive Director of Integrity Watch stated that the Community Based Monitoring- Trials (CBM-T) is not a project but instead is a process. He confirmed that, as a consequence, Integrity Watch is establishing and implementing programs which should be sustainable in these local areas. He also confirmed that, aside from these current programs, Integrity Watch considering to organize monitoring over the police and prosecution services as well.

The participants participated in group discussions where they discussed major challenges and lessons learned. The groups raised challenges and proposed solutions regarding the monitoring of judicial institution. Insecurity, lack of coordination among government officials, lack of accountability, failure to use the Access to Information Law, the lack of women’s access to justice, the lack of people’s trusts of judicial institutions, the lack of citizen’s awareness of their rights, the lack of police professionalism, the slow processing of cases by judicial institutions and the misuse of jurisdictions were highlighted as the major challenges facing delivery of justice in the 10 provinces. In some cases, the community volunteers also commented on the lack of capacity of judicial institutions to perform their work well. Lack of adequate facilities such as court rooms or even furniture in the court rooms and lack basic maintenance and repairs of buildings prevented trials to be held in open courts. The group felt that well organized community-based monitoring (CBM) can strengthen social accountability that would assist in reducing these problems. However, they also thought that the government and donors need to prioritize operation and maintenance of the courts and other justice institutions.

Additionally, the group members discussed community monitoring of police and prosecution services and provided their SWOT analyses on these. Finally, the volunteers discussed and contributed to the resolution that would be presented at Integrity Watch’s recent National Integrity Conference on the theme of Open Justice. The resolution included demands made by the local volunteers to improve justice sector which included providing basic facilities to justice sector institution and ensuring citizens oversight of these institutions.