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 Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 11:18 GMT
Afghan legal system under spotlight
Hamid Karzai (centre) arrives in Rome for the conference
Hamid Karzai (centre) flew in from the Oslo donor forum

An international conference began in Rome on Thursday to discuss rebuilding the justice system in war-torn Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Italy's Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, are chairing the two-day conference.

Mr Karzai travelled to Rome from Oslo, where he had been attending a meeting of donor countries who have pledged more than $1 billion in economic aid for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The president of Afghanistan's supreme court, Abdol Hadi Shinwari, and legal experts from many countries are attending the Rome meeting.

Sharia law

The challenge that Afghanistan now faces is to reconcile different aims as it tries to rebuild democratic institutions.

Afghan police trainee
Afghan police receive forensic training in Kabul

Mr Karzai has made it clear that Afghanistan, a predominantly Muslim society, intends to maintain sharia law, while at the same time establishing pluralistic democracy and an independent judiciary.

A preliminary conference of international lawyers meeting here in Rome earlier this week recommended that special measures should be taken to protect and promote the rights of women and children in Afghanistan.

Judges should be adequately paid and training schemes should be set up for judges, lawyers, prosecutors and court personnel.

Italy is bearing the cost of hosting the conference.


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18 Dec 02 | South Asia
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