News: Nawa celebrates opening of new justice center
Story by Cpl. Marco Mancha
NAWA DISTRICT CENTER, Helmand province, Afghanistan - Marines with Civil Affairs Team 3 joined the local residents of Nawa to celebrate the grand opening of the new justice center, recently.
Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement United States Ambassador Hans G. Klemm and several members of the district's government gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The civil affairs team with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, played a big role in the project's success.
Maj. Jason Johnson of Vineland, N.J., is currently serving as the team leader for the civil affairs team. He and his team of Marines, made sure the project was accomplished. The project was started by Marines of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, in August 2010.
I think sound governance depends on people being able to bring their conflicts to a place where all the parties agree on the resolution,” said Johnson, a 1997 graduate of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. “I think this place will be the symbol of that in the district of Nawa, which is why we worked so hard on it.”
The new center comes with a community court room, consultation room, and several office spaces for the district's rule of law figures like the senior judge, prosecutors, and the huquq or civil dispute mediator.
The main entrance leads directly to the community court room, which is layered with marble floors and three rows of steel benches for local residents to view the hearings and proceedings. Two pillars separate the row of seats from a pair of tan and beige couches that will accommodate both plaintiff and defendant parties.
Toward the end of the room is the senior judge's bench, made of a wood grain desk with the Flag of Afghanistan hanging behind it. Los Angeles native Daniel Bolick, a Law Enforcement Professional with the U.S. Department of State, said the justice center is “a big win for the Afghan people.”
“Rule of law is one of the real core infrastructures of having a stable society.” explained Bolick, who served as a Federal investigator for more than 25 years in the FBI and has been working alongside the civil affairs team. “If the people don't believe the government could keep it safe, they're going to be looking for alternatives. By putting up the center, we're showing that rule of law has been established.”
According to Bolick, all previous trial cases were held in temporary facilities within the government center by the senior judge, and didn't allow the people of Nawa to view the court's proceedings.
Now, the senior judge, prosecutors, and huquq have their own work spaces and offices. The offices come with decorative rugs, desks, and several other office furnishings.
Ambassador Klemm, appointed a year ago in July 2010 after serving as the U.S. Ambassador in Dili, Timor from 2007 to 2010, showed his support by attending the ceremony and taking a tour of the new facility. Nawa District Governor Haji Abdul Manaf, who made the decision to designate the annex building as the justice center, accompanied Klemm throughout the tour and ceremony.
Manaf and the Nawa District have played host to several political representatives like Klemm to include: Senators John McCain, from Arizona, Lindsey Graham, from South Carolina, Kirsten Gillibrand, New York, Joseph I. Lieberman, from Connecticut, and several other U.S. Government personnel.
Editor's Note: First Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 1, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.