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Cablegate: Afghan Judges Take to America

VZCZCXRO7929
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #2985/01 1841239
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031239Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1167
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DOJ WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEABND/DEA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 002985

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PASS TO INL/FO, SCA FOR GASTRIGHT, NSC FOR
HARRIMAN/OSULLIVAN/AMEND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KJUS KCRM SNAR AF
SUBJECT: AFGHAN JUDGES TAKE TO AMERICA

1. (U) Summary: Four women judges from Kabul participated in
a study trip to the US. During their three-week trip, the
judges obtained a bird's eye view of the administration and
operations of Vermont,s rural court system and held
constructive discussions with key USG officials about the
status of Afghan courts. In a roundtable discussion, the
judges expressed concerns about the lack of infrastructure,
particularly security in Afghan courts. The judges also spoke
to the challenges regarding implementation of new laws,
including the counter narcotics (CN) law. All agreed that
continued assistance from the US and the international
community regarding training, court infrastructure and
development is necessary to ensure the success of the
judicial sector. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Four women judges from Afghanistan,s various
judicial sectors traveled to the US on May 30 to participate
in a two week study of the Vermont judiciary. The judges,
Supreme Court Associate Judge Aseta Kakar, Public Security
Court of Appeals Judge Karima Ahmadi, Commercial Tribunal
Court Judge Safeya Zarif and Appellate Court for Narcotics
Judge Nafisa Kabuli, had the opportunity to observe court
administration and operations in Vermont,s rural courts
while living with local lawyers, judges and host families.
The judges also spent a week in Washington where they had the
opportunity to observe and discuss judicial issues at the
local and federal level and meet with USG officials including
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
3. (U) This trip, the second of its kind sponsored by INL and
the International Association for Women Judges (IAWJ), is
designed to expose Afghan women judges to legal institutions
in the US. The judges said that they found the trip to
Vermont especially useful because they learned a great deal
about court procedures, which they believe must be
established in Afghanistan, particularly record keeping,
filing and general court structure.
4. (U) INL hosted a roundtable discussion at the Department
on June 22 in cooperation with the Office for International
Women,s Issues (G/IWI). In this forum, the judges talked
about their experiences in Afghanistan. The judges told the
assembly that they don,t feel safe in court and that often
civil disputes can result in threats and occasionally death.
Also, the judges said security procedures are very lax. Most
people enter courtrooms without being searched, which has
occasionally resulted in injury and death to judges and
prosecutors.

5. (U) Recalling their experiences in Vermont, the judges
talked about the disparate lack of judicial infrastructure in
Afghanistan. All decisions are handwritten and there are
virtually no procedures for record keeping. There is no bench
book to provide an explanation of the relevant laws. Afghan
judges frequently confer with retired judges and legislators
to interpret laws. Also, the judges talked about the lack of
proper court facilities in Afghanistan saying few court rooms
have electricity and running water. Judges lack space to use
as chambers. In many cases defendants and witnesses sit next
to judges during trial.
6. (SBU) Judge Nafisa Kabuli from the Appellate Court of the
Central Narcotics Tribunal told the group that the narcotics
courts in Afghanistan have many problems and highlighted the
key issues of concern. She said that there is no security for
police, prosecutors, or judges. Judge Kabuli believes the
narcotics dealers are stronger than central government. She
said the &big druglords8 never come to Kabul for trial,
only low-level criminals who work for smugglers are tried
(e.g., drivers and assistants). Seized drugs are never
entered in as evidence. In most cases, the drugs have been
destroyed and only paper testimony regarding the case exists.

7. (SBU) Judge Kabuli also expressed frustration about
implementation of the new CN law; the CN law makes things
more difficult and nobody understands it. She thinks that the
law is not being widely implemented and understood and the
MCN needs to do more to inform people about the CN law and
its penalties. Judge Kabuli believes some people risk
involvement in the narcotics trade because they do not know
about law and the stricter penalties for narcotics-related
offenses.
8. (U) Aside from infrastructure and procedural issues, the
judges told the group that strong measures must be taken to
curb corruption in the judicial sector. The judges support
ethics training, better education for the judiciary, and
better salaries for judges and court officials. The judges
also believe that women, like themselves, are critical to

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implementing anti-corruption measures in the judicial sector
and acknowledged that additional support from the US and the
international community regarding training, infrastructure
restoration and development is integral to ensuring the
judiciary,s success.
9. (U) Comment: Judge Kabuli,s comments, while striking, do
not completely reflect on-the-ground realities. To be sure,
more needs to be done to ensure the safety of judges and
court officials, facilitate prosecution of &drug king
pins8, and train on the new Counter Narcotics (CN) Law.
However, the court in which Judge Kabuli serves is located
within a secure police compound guarded 24 hours a day by
CNPA personnel; in fact, it is considered the most secure
court facility in all of Afghanistan. DOJ also has a program
on-tap for late 2006, in which the US Marshal Service will
provide and build capacity for witness and court protection.
10. (U) Judge Kabuli also points out that few &big8 drug
cases are being tried in Kabul. In fact, the main focus of
the Criminal Justice Task Force (aka VPTF) is to develop mid-
and high-value target cases for prosecution in the Central
Narcotics Tribunal, and several cases are starting to come on
line.
11. (U) In her comments, Judge Kabuli implied that the
destruction of drugs negatively affects the prosecution of
drug cases. As prescribed under the new law, drugs are
destroyed at the location of the seizure after sampling and
weighing. Lastly, Judge Kabuli contends that the CN law is
confusing and is not being widely implemented. We would
challenge that assertion, but in any case DOJ is taking steps
to ensure that all judges and prosecutors have a working
knowledge of the law, e.g., DOJ will begin an intensive
training program on the new CN law on July 8. Post is working
to ensure that all aspects of the justice sector are
strengthened and anticipates that judges like these women
will be important partners as the reform process moves
forward. End Comment.
NEUMANN

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