Final Evaluation of the Project "Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA)

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Evaluation Plan:
2015-2019, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
03/2018
Completion Date:
10/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
60,000

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Title Final Evaluation of the Project "Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA)
Atlas Project Number: 00068012
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2019, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 10/2017
Planned End Date: 03/2018
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.3 Capacities of human rights institutions strengthened
  • 2. Output 3.4. Functions, financing and capacity of rule of law institutions enabled, including to improve access to justice and redress
Evaluation Budget(US $): 60,000
Source of Funding: Project Resources
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 60,000
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Kerry Abbott
Aziz Naderi
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Comments:

Final evaluation has been completed and draft report exists; final report will be available in Q1 2018.

Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Capacity building focused too much on central institutions and not enough on the rural areas where most Afghans live, without an indication of the unique value of the training. Capacity building can be more focused at the local level in observing and then providing correction in legal process and court procedures every step of the way, through local legal affairs officers, who rotate through the provinces and districts.

2

Complaints over the justice sector are more based on integrity and process than on lack of knowledge of the law. An assessment should be conducted of content and focus of training and of the effectiveness of capacity building of Ministry officials to see whether trained professionals actually behave differently and improve the process; professional bodies should hold lawyers and judges to ethical standards.

3

Lawyers graduate with little practical knowledge of court proceedings. Professional organizations, such as AIBA and a Judges' Association or Judicial Academy, should be assisted to provide ongoing continuing education to lawyers and judges to assure they know both civil and criminal law, the Constitution, and court procedure, and are monitored and censured for misdeeds.

4

Legal Clinics are being supported with professional legal staff so that the next generation of lawyers is equipped with the practical knowledge and experience to handle cases in court.Part of their training should involve monitoring legal aid cases in court, to compile a record of how those cases are handled, and AIBA legal aid lawyers should be included, due to their lack of experience.

5

Public Awareness of the legal system has improved due to success of messages presented on radio, television, in the mosque, and in street theater. A more targeted strategy of message and audience (by region, ethnicity) should be made, and include a team of GoA and sharia authorities to discuss practical issues and common constitutional and sharia law remedies, to educate the public about critical legal and moral issues and how much the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan agrees with Islamic traditions.

6

Lack of knowledge of the law does not only pertain to the Constitutional framework but also to Islamic jurisprudence, even on basic issues dealt with by informal justice. More coordination can be devised between traditional religious and community elders as they confer on interpretations of law and how much national laws enshrine Islamic practice.

7

A number of issues plague the legal aid system, including absentee cases clogging the docket and a lack of timely information to enable lawyers to effectively defend cases in Primary Courts.Changes to the legal aid payment system should remove the incentive towards multiple cases, with superficial legal input.

8

Questions arise as to whether people are making false arrests to profit from the legal aid subsidy. Police should not be paid for handling legal aid cases. The UNDP needs to revise the LAGF framework to prevent abuses and to phase out its support in favour of a system the Government can fund or sustain through required pro bono services.

9

Many questions exist as to why so many convictions occur in Primary Court and why they are overturned on appeal.The legal aid programmes should be better tracked, with more complete case data, and compiled in a database by the MoJ with UNDP assistance, so that the net effect can be known.

10

The framework for paying lawyers by the case may be geared for profiteering by all concerned, and inflate the number of court cases. LAGF should be phased out and AIBA should ensure lawyers handle the three pro bono cases required by the Constitution for legal aid (or more), and link it to recertification for licensing.

11

Legal Clinics exist at the university faculties in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Herat, but it is unclear how many students can participate and for how long.The UNDP can help to promote strategic alternatives, such as interning in law offices, with judges or the MoJ LAD, in order to understand the process and share the work load and provide witnesses as to the transparency of the process.

12

Lack of confidence in the formal justice sector, lack of access, and enforcement issues mean that informal justice remains the way most disputes are handled by a mostly rural population for decades to come. A programme that discusses with village leaders how their traditions fit the formal legal framework could be a fruitful initiative that leads to the courts entering as a judgment some rulings of the shura.

1. Recommendation:

Capacity building focused too much on central institutions and not enough on the rural areas where most Afghans live, without an indication of the unique value of the training. Capacity building can be more focused at the local level in observing and then providing correction in legal process and court procedures every step of the way, through local legal affairs officers, who rotate through the provinces and districts.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

UNDP agrees that capacity development efforts should have a decentralized focus and target justice operators in provinces. The successor project to JHRA, Afghanistan Access to Justice (AA2J) has decentralized training efforts, by organizing trainings in provinces and also invite relevant justice operators from adjacent provinces to cover all target provinces.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
A training strategy for AA2J at subnational level was developed and implemented.
[Added: 2018/05/28]
AA2J project 2017/06 Completed
2. Recommendation:

Complaints over the justice sector are more based on integrity and process than on lack of knowledge of the law. An assessment should be conducted of content and focus of training and of the effectiveness of capacity building of Ministry officials to see whether trained professionals actually behave differently and improve the process; professional bodies should hold lawyers and judges to ethical standards.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Partially agreed. The AA2J project has taken up a more solid M&E approach, which implies that all trainings and workshops follow the same pre- and post-training evaluation methodology. As the project’s training elements are specific to certain targeted activities (EVAW, legislative drafting, human rights), and not a holistic training component such as the Justice Training Transition Programme implemented by IDLO, it would not be relevant to undertake such an in-depth analysis of behavioral change of justice professionals.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Pre- and post-training/workshop evaluations were introduced for all trainings/workshops.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J project 2017/06 Completed
3. Recommendation:

Lawyers graduate with little practical knowledge of court proceedings. Professional organizations, such as AIBA and a Judges' Association or Judicial Academy, should be assisted to provide ongoing continuing education to lawyers and judges to assure they know both civil and criminal law, the Constitution, and court procedure, and are monitored and censured for misdeeds.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Agreed. In the AA2J project, a more prominent role for training of lawyers has been included into the Letter of Agreement with AIBA, and a budget has been allocated accordingly. Through the introduction of M&E officers at subnational level, the Legal Aid Grant Facility has improved its monitoring capacity, which also identifies training needs for lawyers at provincial level, which can then adequately be addressed. Coordination with other projects in the justice sector is done bilaterally and in the framework of the Rule of Law Board of Donors, where it was decided that UNDP should not duplicate training efforts from other organizations on the new penal code.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Structural training for lawyers was included into LOA and budget of the Legal Aid Grant Facility (LAGF) and is being implemented.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J project 2018/03 Completed
AIBA’s capacity to monitor the performance of lawyers under the LAGF was improved by recruiting M&E officers at subnational level.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J project 2018/01 Completed
4. Recommendation:

Legal Clinics are being supported with professional legal staff so that the next generation of lawyers is equipped with the practical knowledge and experience to handle cases in court.Part of their training should involve monitoring legal aid cases in court, to compile a record of how those cases are handled, and AIBA legal aid lawyers should be included, due to their lack of experience.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

While under JHRA the engagement with law clinics was of an ad hoc character, the AA2J project has taken a more comprehensive approach to support law clinics. In practice, the universities have undergone a HACT assessment, and have signed a Letter of Agreement, that formalizes the partnership. The activities supported by UNDP that are mandatory under the LoA include practical visits to court, and analysis of real court cases at the law clinic. An arrangement where AIBA lawyers (with practical experience) are working directly with the law clinics in addition to professors who only have an academic background has also been formalized under the LOA with AIBA. Through these two LOAs, the recommendation has been fully addressed.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Court monitoring was introduced as one of the activities to be included into the law clinic pilot within the scope of the LOA with universities.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2017/03 Completed
The allocation of AIBA lawyers to law clinics was introduced in the LOA with AIBA.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2017/09 Completed
5. Recommendation:

Public Awareness of the legal system has improved due to success of messages presented on radio, television, in the mosque, and in street theater. A more targeted strategy of message and audience (by region, ethnicity) should be made, and include a team of GoA and sharia authorities to discuss practical issues and common constitutional and sharia law remedies, to educate the public about critical legal and moral issues and how much the legal system of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan agrees with Islamic traditions.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Agreed. Following closure of JHRA, the AA2J project continued to have a legal awareness campaign for billboards at government facilities and for radio messages with a coverage of 16 provinces, with different targeted messages for different regions. Both the billboards and the radio campaign focused particularly on women’s rights. Engagement with sharia authorities falls outside the scope of AA2J, but this is covered by the EGEMA project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
A legal awareness campaign was continued, for which a clear strategy was developed to target gender sensitive messages, and a solid monitoring mechanism was inserted into the contract.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2017/12 Completed
6. Recommendation:

Lack of knowledge of the law does not only pertain to the Constitutional framework but also to Islamic jurisprudence, even on basic issues dealt with by informal justice. More coordination can be devised between traditional religious and community elders as they confer on interpretations of law and how much national laws enshrine Islamic practice.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Agreed. In 2018, UNDP recruited a consultant for the Rule of Law and Human Security programme unit to define entry points for UNDP to engage proactively with the informal justice sector. Throughout Q1 and Q2 of 2018, this consultant, together with the AA2J project staff, coordinated a series of community consultations in 4 provinces about the draft Conciliation Law of Civil Disputes, which also included Islamic practice in Afghan national laws. Further research on this will be completed during Q3 of 2018 and included into project activities of AA2J.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Research on informal justice, including Islamic practice and Afghan national legislation was taken up by UNDP to play a key role in future programming of UNDP’s justice project..
[Added: 2018/05/29] [Last Updated: 2018/10/13]
RoLHS Unit 2019/04 Initiated Interventions on informal justice which are recommended by the research and study on informal justice will be incorporated in the new design of the AA2J project in April 2019.
7. Recommendation:

A number of issues plague the legal aid system, including absentee cases clogging the docket and a lack of timely information to enable lawyers to effectively defend cases in Primary Courts.Changes to the legal aid payment system should remove the incentive towards multiple cases, with superficial legal input.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Irrelevant. The LAGF methodology does not allow lawyers to handle several LAGF cases simultaneously, so the recommendation to remove incentives towards multiple cases is not applicable. As regards the reference to “superficial legal inputs”, the quality of services is monitored through LAGF M&E officers that were introduced in Q1-2018, and through joint monitoring missions of the Legal Aid Department of the Ministry of Justice and the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Better M&E mechanisms for LAGF, by introducing M&E officers at subnational level, and through joint monitoring missions between the Legal Aid Department of the Ministry of Justice and AIBA have been started in 2017.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2018/01 Completed
8. Recommendation:

Questions arise as to whether people are making false arrests to profit from the legal aid subsidy. Police should not be paid for handling legal aid cases. The UNDP needs to revise the LAGF framework to prevent abuses and to phase out its support in favour of a system the Government can fund or sustain through required pro bono services.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Irrelevant. UNDP does not pay police for handling legal aid cases. The evaluation report did not substantiate the anecdotal findings of abuse of the LAGF framework and therefore no further action is required.

Key Actions:

9. Recommendation:

Many questions exist as to why so many convictions occur in Primary Court and why they are overturned on appeal.The legal aid programmes should be better tracked, with more complete case data, and compiled in a database by the MoJ with UNDP assistance, so that the net effect can be known.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Agreed. Under the AA2J project, UNDP has partnered with the Afghanistan Legal Aid and Advocates Network (ALAAN), to develop a harmonized database that tracks all legal aid providers, under the supervision of the MOJ-Legal Aid Department. While this database was developed by other development actors, UNDP provided technical inputs and supported internet connectivity during the roll-out phase to ensure full compatibility for LAD and LAGF with the database.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Technical support to database development was provided and internet connectivity was facilitated by UNDP to improve data collection on legal aid.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2018/03 Completed The database is still in the process of being rolled out and expanded, however, the key action to respond to this recommendation has been taken.
10. Recommendation:

The framework for paying lawyers by the case may be geared for profiteering by all concerned, and inflate the number of court cases. LAGF should be phased out and AIBA should ensure lawyers handle the three pro bono cases required by the Constitution for legal aid (or more), and link it to recertification for licensing.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28] [Last Updated: 2018/05/28]

Partially agreed. The evaluation report has not provided any substantiated evidence why the LAGF should be phased out. Under the AA2J project, the impact and quality of the services of the LAGF have extensively been analyzed in 2017 by an Independent Monitoring Agent that contradicts the anecdotal criticism from the JHRA project evaluation about the LAGF. Hence, UNDP disagrees with the recommendation to end the Legal Aid Grant Facility. In the 2018 Letter of Agreement with AIBA, a clause was included to revise the LAGF procedure in such a way that a hybrid model could be introduced, whereby dedicated lawyers could be recruited who would be paid on a salary basis and not on a case-by-case basis. This has extensively been discussed with AIBA and MOJ-LAD and on the request of AIBA, it was decided to pilot this for several provinces starting Q3-2018. For some provinces AIBA provided credible arguments against such a model (especially for rural provinces with a very low number of lawyers and cases), while through a salary-base model, lawyers could be encouraged to make more frequent visits to districts, including in insecure districts. As regards the pro bono cases, the LAGF procedure contains an explicit condition that the lawyer has completed his mandatory pro bono cases, and UNDP at the national LAGF Committee meetings regularly emphasizes the need for AIBA to track compliance with this requirement. It goes beyond UNDP’s mandate to interfere with AIBA’s competency to (re)certify lawyers.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Discussion are ongoing to change the LAGF towards a hybrid model for case-by-case paid lawyers and salary based lawyers in the Letter of Agreement with AIBA for July-December 2018.
[Added: 2018/05/29]
AA2J 2018/12 Initiated
11. Recommendation:

Legal Clinics exist at the university faculties in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Herat, but it is unclear how many students can participate and for how long.The UNDP can help to promote strategic alternatives, such as interning in law offices, with judges or the MoJ LAD, in order to understand the process and share the work load and provide witnesses as to the transparency of the process.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Disagreed. UNDP increasingly supports the law clinics which is intended to be continued throughout the AA2J project. This implies that a growing number of students get exposure to real cases in court, but UNDP has no comparative advantage to take up the responsibility to arrange internships for all law students in Afghanistan.

Key Actions:

12. Recommendation:

Lack of confidence in the formal justice sector, lack of access, and enforcement issues mean that informal justice remains the way most disputes are handled by a mostly rural population for decades to come. A programme that discusses with village leaders how their traditions fit the formal legal framework could be a fruitful initiative that leads to the courts entering as a judgment some rulings of the shura.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/05/28]

Agreed. In 2018, UNDP recruited a consultant for the Rule of Law and Human Security programme unit to define entry points for UNDP to engage proactively with the informal justice sector. Throughout Q1 and Q2 of 2018, this consultant, together with the AA2J project staff, coordinated a series of community consultations in 4 provinces about the draft Conciliation Law of Civil Disputes, which also included how Islamic traditions relate to Afghan national laws. Further research on this will be completed during Q3 of 2018 and included into project activities of AA2J.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Research on informal justice, including Islamic practice and Afghan national legislation was initiated and will be concluded in the second half of 2018.
[Added: 2018/05/29] [Last Updated: 2018/10/13]
RoLHS 2019/04 Initiated The consultant has already identified the entr points for UNDP to engage with the informal justice sector. However, implementation of interventions related informal justice sector awaiting the completion of the new project design, possibly in April 2019.

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