The United States sponsors training programs with government institutions to improve their administrative capacity, transparency, and accountability; this is particularly important with newly formed institutions such as the Civil Service Commission, Independent Election Commission, National Assembly, and the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG). Training includes mentoring and imparting skills and knowledge of best and international practices. Parliamentary programs include support for elected Members of Parliament (MPs) who represent minority and under-privileged members of the population, including women; training and technical support for parliamentary administration, committees, budget analysis; and development courses at the parliamentary training institute. The assistance for Parliament pays special attention to female and Kuchi MPs, making sure they are included in all development events. The female MPs consistently demonstrate greater participation in parliament and involvement in development events. Recently 11 women started their fellowships with parliament. The parliament assistance efforts include awareness lessons targeted against gender bias of male MPs, parliament officers, and staff. One recent U.S. program supported the political development of women by providing training to 35 female parliamentarians and 165 of their staff. A training program for Afghan female diplomats focused on enhancing their professional abilities, thus furthering gender equality in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The training included sessions on human rights policy and human rights law. Another U.S. program supports the participation of local female judges in the International Association of Women Judges, funding training conferences in Washington and attendance of Afghan women judges at the last two bi-annual IAWJ conferences, in Panama and Seoul respectively.The United States works closely with the IDLG to improve quality of representation, delivery of services, and accountability at provincial, district, and municipal levels. Provincial Reconstruction Teams play a critical role in the local governance effort as the direct interlocutors in support of sub-national officials. The Public Diplomacy Small Grants program funds provincial and district-level projects with a focus on cultural programming, promotion of civil society, government and NGO capacity development and freedom of the press. Embassy Kabul uses the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Voluntary Visitors (VolVis) program, and other exchanges to bring hundreds of Afghans from the capital and the provinces to the United States for cultural exchanges. Single-country IVLP projects focus on issues as diverse as conflict resolution and community problem solving, women's issues, local governance, combating corruption, democracy and human rights awareness, higher education alternatives, and the role of religion in America.
The U.S. sponsors human rights programming in the country's eight Lincoln Learning Centers (LLC), using educational events to commemorate Human Rights Day and International Women's Day and utilizing open forums to discuss democracy and human rights in Afghanistan. Most of these events are organized and run by the Afghan LLC Coordinators for their local audiences. As a result, the context and discussion is truly Afghan, enabled by the United States. Embassy Kabul also promoted the Department of State's Democracy Video Challenge and has three Afghan entries in the 2010 regional semi-finals.The U.S. Government is a primary supporter of several national rule of law programs designed to strengthen the legal and corrections systems and help it meet international human rights standards. Assistance involves training and equipping judges, attorneys, administrators, and corrections personnel to build the sector's limited capacity and enhance performance. The embassy continues to contribute materials to the country's first law library, established by the U.S. Government in 2008, and helps educate the public about the legal system by widely distributing pocket constitutions as well as multi-lingual picture-books and other publications on basic legal rights. In 2010 the U.S. Government began working more closely with Afghanistan's informal justice sector, which in the absence of formal district courts has been the primary vehicle for rule of law in most provinces.
The U.S. Government funds the activities of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), charged with investigating claims of human rights violations and judicial corruption and monitoring prisons and detention facilities. The U.S. Government is working with AIHRC to identify and release prisoners who have been detained past the expiration of their sentences. AIHRC's public outreach department also receives support from the U.S. Government.The United States promotes an independent press and electronic media by investing in personnel training and business plan development for media companies and by facilitating the development of community-based radio stations. The U.S. Government supports the production of an original radio series that promotes principles of respect, human rights, and democracy as they relate to rights under Islamic law. The U.S. Government also supports a popular national television series that promotes respect for the rights of women and girls, ethnic and religious tolerance, democratic behavior, and national cohesion. The U.S. Ambassador and other officials engage with lawmakers publicly and privately to underscore the importance of media freedom in a democratic society and raise specific cases of concern with their government counterparts. In addition, U.S. officials work with media to identify journalists who might benefit from professional training or exchange programs.