Kapisa Appellate Court has recently started to hold regular open sessions in its public courtroom. Until recently most of sessions, however, were held in the judges’ offices because the courtroom facilities were not equipped and therefore citizens could not attend court sessions. The root of the issue was that the design of the construction of the courtroom involved only a hall. The court officials explained that although the courtroom had been constructed, it lacked a private room for judges to make a decision upon hearing the trial parties.
Since citizen volunteers monitor primary courts in the same province, the issues were raised with the chief of the appeal court. Following requests by the citizen volunteers, the appeal court officials raised the issue with the Supreme Court officials and as a result received the necessary resources to construct a room for judges adjacent to the courtroom. Now, citizens volunteers including university students can attend and observe these open court sessions.
The Constitution of Afghanistan obliges all courts to make their proceedings open and accessible to citizens. Community-Based Monitoring of Trials (CBM-T) program of Integrity Watch has been working with local communities and courts in Kapisa province to promote holding open trials in public courtrooms since 2011. The program has covered 117 cases in 2018.