Search

 

Cablegate: Readout of Hadley Meeting with Chief Justice

VZCZCXRO2272
OO RUEHIK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #5400/01 3111509
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071509Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3988
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE 4379
RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3219
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 005400

SIPDIS

SIPDIS, SENSITIVE

ISLAMABAD FOR A/S BOUCHER
STATE FOR SCA/FO (DAS GASTRIGHT), SCA/A, S/CRS, INL/FO
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/CDHA/DG
NSC FOR HADLEY, O'SULLIVAN, HARRIMAN
OSD FOR KIMMITT
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A, CG CJTF-76, POLAD

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KJUS AF
SUBJECT: READOUT OF HADLEY MEETING WITH CHIEF JUSTICE


KABUL 00005400 001.2 OF 003


REFTEL: A. KABUL 5299
B. KABUL 5387
C. KABUL 5388

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) National Security Advisor Steven Hadley met
with Chief Justice Azimi to learn more about the
present challenges to rule of law in Afghanistan and
provide encouragement for the future. Unqualified
judges in office and a lack of trained recruits create
a long-term challenge to the justice sector.
Corruption and counter-narcotics related corruption
also undermine its effectiveness. The NSA and
Ambassador both supported the Chief Justice's efforts
to reform the judiciary and promised to help Azimi,
whose chief requests were to improve the dignity of
the position by helping provide better salaries,
housing and transportation. END SUMMARY.

LACK OF QUALIFIED PERSONNEL
---------------------------

2. (SBU) On November 2, National Security Advisor
Steven Hadley and Ambassador Neumann met with Chief
Justice Azimi to discuss the crucial need to develop
rule of law and the justice sector. One of the key
problems facing the judiciary is the lack of
academically qualified judges. Only about half of the
approximate 1,500 judges are academically qualified.
For some time, and especially during the civil war
years, judges were appointed without regard to their
academic qualifications, but rather on the basis of
political favoritism and other non-academic factors.
Many of those judges remain on the bench.

3. (SBU) Azimi also said a similar lack of academic
qualifications afflicts the prosecution service. While
he believes that all prosecutors should be lawyers,
this is not the case today. The number of genuine
lawyers in the country numbers "in the hundreds,"
although others perform some attorney-like functions
like preparing petitions for redress. The relative few
genuine lawyers are often retired judges or
prosecutors and are usually very well qualified.

4. (SBU) The Chief Justice is faced with a serious
problem of improving the quality of the judiciary in a
short amount of time. There needs to be a commitment
to appoint judges and prosecutors based only on merit
and to upgrade the dignity of their profession with
the help of outside assistance.

PRESENT COURT SYSTEM
--------------------

5. (SBU) The Supreme Court has overall responsibility
for the national court system. At present, the Chief
Justice feels the court is disconnected from the
provinces, and the rural people feel similarly
disconnected from the central courts in Kabul. There
is currently no case reporting or case tracking
system. The Chief Justice has asked the chief judges
in each province to submit monthly reports to him
indicating the numbers and types of their cases.
Recently, the court apportioned the country into eight
regions, with one of the Supreme Court justices
responsible for liaison with each region. The hope is
that this will bring familiarity with the formal court
system to the provinces and also make local judges
more accountable to Kabul. He believes there are many
people "caught in the middle" of opposing forces today
and willing to accept the national government if they
see positive changes in their lives.

KABUL 00005400 002.2 OF 003

POPPIES AND CORRUPTION
----------------------

6. (SBU) Mr. Hadley noted that Afghanistan's future is
threatened by "poppies and corruption" and asked the
Chief Justice to describe possible approaches to the
corruption problem. The Chief Justice noted that he
chairs an 11 person commission that was given three
months (with two months remaining) to report to the
President. The report will address the extent of
corruption within all three branches of the government
and how to combat it. While good ethics laws or
trained anti-corruption investigators and prosecutors
remain lacking, the Chief Justice said the GOA was
trying to address those gaps. He cited the need for
the MOI, MOJ, AGO, and Supreme Court to communicate
more closely.

7. (SBU) The Chief Justice gave anecdotal examples of
some bureaucratic problems that encourage corruption.
For example, he said a person must get the approval of
over twenty offices to get a drivers' license, each of
which might ask for a bribe. As another example, he
noted that too few Afghan passports are printed, which
leads to bribery in order to obtain one. In cases of
alleged criminality, even if "caught in the act," the
Chief Justice can only ask the President to suspend a
judge pending the outcome of a criminal case. In case
of a not guilty verdict, the judge is returned to
service. The Chief Justice believes that the local
media actively covers cases of official corruption
that are exposed, although the Ambassador noted that
the media does not aggressively pursue counter-
narcotics coverage.

8. (SBU) When asked by Mr. Hadley about the influence
of Sharia law in the judicial system, the Chief
Justice said that, unlike under the Taliban, there is
now "no problem at all." He noted that both the
Criminal Code and Civil Code were originally drafted
by Egyptian scholars in the 1960's. The Criminal Code
has now been reinstated, while the Civil Code is still
being modified. (NOTE: There are many reports that the
influence of Sharia is still a problem in rural areas
where "official" laws are ignored for the informal
system based in Sharia and tribal law. END NOTE.)

SUPPORT FOR RULE OF LAW
-----------------------

9. (SBU) Mr. Hadley noted that the work the Chief
Justice was engaged in was both difficult and
dangerous, but that the USG was pleased to see that
such a person as he was now leading the effort and we
would continue to support him. The Ambassador noted
the meeting of international donors convened earlier
this week by UNAMA and the Italians (see REFTEL A) and
expressed the USG's desire to increase coordination
among all donors to address the needs of the GOA in
the Rule of Law arena.

10. (SBU) The Chief Justice noted that the donor
assistance he needs is not standard textbook training.
He believes the Supreme Court can handle that problem
itself. He said he needs help improving the conditions
and dignity of the position. Currently, judges earn
$50-$300 per month. He would like to see those
salaries raised to $400-$800 per month, with some
senior judges earning up to $1,000 per month. He also
cited a critical need for more and better
transportation, housing and offices for judges. (NOTE:
these needs are also cited in the five year strategic
plan recently issued by the Supreme Court. END NOTE.)


KABUL 00005400 003.2 OF 003


11. (SBU) The Ambassador responded that while he was
initially resistant to such assistance and that such
construction was cut last year, he believes the issue
now needs to be re-examined. Both the Ambassador and
Mr. Hadley noted that in budget negotiations with
Congress for such funding, it would be very helpful to
show that the GOA was committed to attacking the
corruption problem.

NEUMANN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>