The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) carries a wide range of responsibilities related to the criminal justice process in Afghanistan. It covers the entire spectrum of criminal prosecution. AGO’s office constitutes one of the necessary components of Afghanistan’s criminal justice system along with judges and the defense bar. It represents a potentially powerful tool for the state to bring those guilty of crimes to justice, curb corruption, and enhance the rule of law. However AGO also suffers from major encumbrances such as bribery, patronage, nepotism and deliberately weak oversight practices. In addition, the lack of professionalization of the AGO administrative service exacerbates many other issues. Irregular human resource practices have contributed to the AGO becoming an undesirable career choice.
AGO has undergone various rounds of capacity building over the years and has committed itself to create a more robust administrative structure. This provides an opportunity for capacity building of AOG with long lasting impact. Professionalization of Attorney General Office’s Administrative Staff (PAAS) was a USIP funded project implemented by The Liaison Office. The project was designed in response to the Attorney General’s request for capacity development of AGO’s administrative staff on human rights, ethics, and code of conduct. The focus of the project was to increase the relevant technical skills of the staff in order to impart in them professionalism while carrying their duties.
The project goal emphasized on professionalism of AGO administrative staff.
The project set out two specific objectives:
- Increase capacity to improve the performance of target AGO administrative staff and
- Increase in relevant technical skills among target AGO administrative staff
At the government level, TLO assisted AGO in setting up a project steering committee comprising of representatives from Presidential palace, the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission, the Attorney General’s Office, TLO, and USIP. TLO supported the steering committee via secretarial duties, logistics, and fund management. TLO also assisted AGO in building a consensus among senior AGO administration leadership for developing a shared vision and mission statement, and supported AGO to work effectively with the administration staff to develop ideas for applying the vision and mission statements in their work. In addition, TLO conducted a series of planning workshops with AGO in Kabul, Herat and Kandahar. These workshops trained senior administrative staff who were involved in the original development of the vision and mission statements and had some authority to bring change.
TLO primarily worked with core AGO staff who had received capacity building training and were empowered and capacitated to provide in-house capacity building for other staff. Furthermore, TLO assisted AGO in providing large-scale staff capacity building by the training of the trainers (ToT). The trainers received training over a period of three months with two trainings per month. Each training was of a duration of three to five days on selected topics.
Following the ToT, master trainers were selected to provide training to the AGO administrative staff. A total number of 100 (86 male and 14 female) administrative staff of AGO received the training in Kabul, Kandahar and Balkh. With an aim to make the capacity building exercise sustainable, all the trainings were organized in AGO facilities. TLO provided the logistical assistance for these training. The training sessions were designed with hands on approach and active participation. For these trainings, TLO also provided technical and administrative support which included preparing and printing the manuals, developing presentations, and coordination for the training sessions.
In accordance with the project activities, a revised version of AGO Vision and Mission Statement was drafted, and the AGO administrative staff was familiarized with the revised statement. The content developed by TLO benefitted AGO in connecting with other Afghan government institutions.
During the project period, TLO supported AGO focal points in the development/finalization of a set of topics for capacity building trainings. The capacity building experience of TLO helped it acquire a network of reliable trainers and experts not only in Kabul but also in target provinces. The first ToT was conducted by TLO/PAAS project in Kabul for three days from December 3 to 5, 2018. The AGO staff were educated on human rights such as right to education, right to freedom, human rights in social, economic and cultural aspects, and human rights from Islamic perspective. A total of 14 participants attended the training including AGO administrative staff and master trainers.
The second ToT was conducted from December 17 to 19, 2018 in Kabul. The training was attended by ten participants including AGO administrative staff and master trainers. The training focused on topic such as general information on ethics and code of conduct, significance of ethics and code of conduct, professional ethics and its relationship with code of conduct, consequences of unethical manners, etc. The final ToT was conducted from March 5 to 9, 2019 and trained ten participants including AGO administrative staff and master trainers. The training sessions focused on procedures of administrative correspondence, basics of administrative correspondence, method of writing, punctuations, principles of administrative correspondence, types of administrative correspondence, types of official documents, and requirements of administrative correspondence.
During the life of the project, 39 master trainers received the ToT and they conducted capacity building training for 200 AGO administrative staff in target provinces.