In March 2018, Integrity Watch held its first Integrity Dialogue on transparency and integrity of judicial agencies in Kapisa province. Integrity Dialogues are modeled after public hearings where government officials have the opportunity to showcase their achievements and community members get a chance to present their views and ask for the explanation.
Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, who presented the major findings of a recent study on open trials in five provinces of Kapisa, Balkh, Nangarhar, Kandahar and Herat stated that, “Open trials can be one of the major platforms to bridge the gap between people and the government and build on the legitimacy of the state in the country.” However, many of the courts face legitimate issues of a proper courtroom or security arrangements. In addition, local court monitoring volunteers expressed their concerns about lack of defense lawyers or prosecutors at the trials.
Dawood Shah Hassanzada, Chief of Appeals, stated that community monitoring could assist courts and stated that “Except for a few circumstances where it is not allowed by the law, the court is open to everyone to participate in open trials.” Regarding lack of presence of prosecutors at the trials session, he accepted that there were problems in the past and since his appointment, he has not held any trial without a prosecutor and defense lawyer.
A panel of the chief judge and prosecutor, as well as a civil society activist and a court monitoring volunteer from Kapisa facilitated by a moderator, discussed the opportunities and challenges on community monitoring and ways to improve the justice system in the province. The government officials presented their achievements and the number of criminal cases adjudicated last year. However, the people present at the hearing were not happy about the police, prosecutors and judges progress to put a check on illegal possession of guns that often lead to murder and drug trafficking that has resulted in addiction of the youth.
The Deputy Governor of Kapisa, Aziz-ur-Rahman Tawab who concluded the session requested the citizens to participate in the open trials, cooperate with the police, and committed that the local government will keep its doors open to citizens’ inputs and views.