20 May 2003

Penitentiary Reform Project in Afghanistan Launched

VIENNA, 20 May (UN Information Service) -- On 17 May, Andul Rahim Karimi, the Minister of Justice of Afghanistan, and Mohammad Reza Amirkhizi, the Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Afghanistan, signed a document on reform of the penitentiary system at a ceremony held in the Ministry of Justice in Kabul.

The project, which is a component of the UNODC Criminal Justice Reform Programme in Afghanistan, was designed at the request of Italy as the lead country in the justice sector. It was developed in close consultation with the Judicial Commission, the Ministry of Justice and other United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

The aim of the project is to strengthen the legislative and institutional framework. The work will include the setting up of a special detention centre for women, paying special attention to the needs of women with young children, as well as the rehabilitation of prisons in Kabul and the improvement of conditions in the Kabul detention centre. The project further involves the revision of national legislation on the rules and regulations of prisons and the establishment of a Prison Administration Department in the Ministry of Justice, as the focal point for all prison-related matters, including a national policy for detained women. Capacity building within the Ministry of Justice is a crucial element, given the fact that the responsibility for prisons was transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice on the basis of a Presidential Decree of 21 March 2003.

The two-year project, with a total budget of nearly US$2 million, has been largely funded by the Italian Government.

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