Earlier this month U.S. military Rule of Law (ROL) advisors hosted a luncheon for justice actors in a district of Kandahar with support from Spirit of America. The intent was to get all the players together for the first time so they could meet one another and discuss various roles and responsibilities as their jobs rely on direct coordination with each other. No formal meeting has occurred prior to this, and some are new to their positions so the U.S. mentors decided to schedule an official shura. Though a few individuals were not able to attend, the Huquq, the lowest level arbitrator; the Saranwal, the district public prosecutor; and the Investigative Saranwal were present for the meeting. On the U.S. side, the ROL team, the Female Engagement Team (FET), Civil Affairs personnel, and Information Operations Soldiers came to the gathering. It was a fairly successful event that lasted 3 hours and covered a wide range of issues.
According to one of the ROL members, "Among the topics discussed were: the criminal case-load and how to stream-line routing the cases through the process; how to go about recruiting females from among the local population to volunteer to serve as Afghan Uniform Police; establishing internships for local students that have an interest in pursuing a career as a Saranwal or Huquq; discussing the implementation of a Rule of Law curriculum for the local school system (a process that has already started) and how receptive the local teachers have been to the curriculum's introduction; and specific ideas from a local perspective on how to most effectively engage women and assist with local women's issues. With regards to women's issues, the creation of a local Women's Affairs position to be seated at the local health clinic, which is a location that most women in the area visit regularly, was seriously discussed. Work will begin to discuss this in more detail with the District Governor."
Essentially, the mission for these law advisors is to assist the Afghans with developing a fully functioning legal system, and this shura was a crucial step in advancing cooperation among the key players. In order to extend the proper courtesy to their counterparts and show hospitality, reps from the ROL team offered a meal which SoA helped fund. The traditional lunch included rice, lamb, chicken, eggplant, and salad. This served as an outward display of respect and helped reinforce the partnership between the American mentors and the local government officials.
The ROL advisor also wrote, "We'd like to thank you [SoA] again for your support in this mission. Like I mentioned before, we feel that the meeting was a success and that a number of positive outcomes were achieved in terms of planning and developing ways ahead. We definitely look forward to updating you on the implementation of these plans in the weeks and months ahead." The shura ultimately laid the foundation for follow-on synchronization between the justice actors in order to increase greater interdependency and reduce reliance on the U.S. military. Subsequent gatherings will be Afghan led as they continue to develop relationships with each other and improve the justice system in their district.
Afghanistan Field Rep