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    Law students perform in Jalalabad court

    Law students perform in Jalalabad court

    Photo By Jeff M. Nagan | During a mock trial, Oct. 27, at the Jalalabad central courtroom, Nangarhar University...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan

    By U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jeff Nagan

    NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - As a capstone activity, Nangarhar University law students, here, put on a mock trial in the central Jalalabad courtroom in front of provincial judges, Oct. 27, where they were graded on their ability to work through the legal process of a complex murder case.

    Similar to an actual case that occurred three years ago the students had to argue evidence and question witnesses to make or plead their case.

    The Afghan public expects those who graduate from law school to be competent and comfortable in the courtroom, said Shabeer Ahmad Kamawal, country director, International Legal Foundation-Afghanistan, a non-government, nonprofit organization. The mock trial gave students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability in an orderly and organized fashion.

    “Our hope is that the mock trial helps students gain a much better understanding of trial procedures,” said Kamawal. “Therefore, it fulfills people’s need for having lawyers, judges and prosecutors, who know what they have to do.”

    The trial enabled the law students to apply what they learned in an academic setting to a real courtroom situation, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Kari Fletcher, NATO Rule of Law Field Support Mission—Afghanistan.

    “The mock trial allowed students to hone their critical thinking skills, practice public speaking, and gain valuable experience working as a group,” said Fletcher.

    The program does not just benefit the students, said Kamawal. It offers clear insight into an ideal Afghan courtroom environment, where the defense and prosecution have equal time to present their arguments and plead their case. It offers an orderly and preset model judges and other judicial officials can follow.

    “One reason mock trials are structured the way they are is to educate and send the message out to judicial actors—whether it’s the police, judges, prosecutors—to explain what it is like to have a trial that goes according to the rule of law and follows procedures correctly,” added Kamawal.

    Although the audience was primarily judicial officials and students, local radio, television and news media also captured the trial, granting the public a view into the judicial process.

    “Holding mock trials in a public form is a great way for the public to see its judicial system at work, and an appreciation for the principle of equal access to justice,” said Fletcher. “By allowing the students to hold the mock trial in a public courtroom, the judiciary is acknowledging the importance of the formal justice system.”

    Once the trial concluded, members of the audience, which included prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges, asked questions and commented on the program.

    “It was a very successful trial,” said Chief Judge Fazal Hadi Fazil, Nangarhar’s chief judge of the appellate court. “The students worked exceptionally hard. They carefully prepared their decision and I evaluated each of their efforts.”

    Although only a select number of law students participated in the mock trial, the program is ongoing, said Kamawal. The goal is to grow the program to include twice as many students.

    “Promoting the rule of law in Afghanistan needs to start with the younger generation,” said Fletcher. “Engaging students in the system at an early stage in their lives will help foster a belief in the future of Afghanistan and that they will play a key part in how Afghanistan’s justice system is shaped. Traditional approaches to dispute resolution have such a deep-rooted place in Afghanistan culture that we need to instill in the next generation the efficacy of the rule of law in society.”



    Date Taken: 11.09.2011
    Date Posted: 11.08.2011 17:43
    Story ID: 79738

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