Challenges: Afghanistan is emerging from 30 years of war and lacks a strong foundation for counternarcotics and rule of law. In the past ten years, Afghanistan has made improvements, but much remains to be done. Afghanistan has significant challenges with illicit cultivation, production, trafficking, and consumption of narcotics, all of which undermine good governance, the licit economy, and public health; as well as fueling corruption, insecurity, and providing a source of revenue for the insurgency. According to a May 2018 UN report, the Taliban and other insurgent groups secured at least $32 million in taxes from the farm-gate value of opium and potentially a further $94-150 million from the manufacturing and internal trafficking of opiates. Afghanistan produces over 80 percent of the world’s illicit opium, which ultimately fuels a global opiate trade that generates nearly $61 billion in profits for corrupt officials, drug traffickers, organized criminal groups, and insurgents across the globe.
U.S. assistance has improved Afghanistan’s capacity to prosecute serious drug offenses and had operate within a legal framework. Despite Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) foreign assistance support, Afghan rule of law institutions suffer from limited judicial capacity that still lacks the ability to perform basic organizational functions. Services for women and children both in addressing illicit narcotic use and providing legal rights are limited or non-existent. Additionally, the Afghan prison infrastructure remains vulnerable to overcrowding and complicates the proper physical classification of prisoners, which accentuates the potential for external security threats.
Goals: Assistance programs managed by INL in Afghanistan are designed to address critical and complex U.S. national security objectives amid one of the most difficult operating environments in the world. Within the context of broader U.S. interagency strategies on Afghanistan, INL’s objective is to assist the Afghan government to assume and sustain basic responsibility for combating illicit narcotics and providing rule of law. Counternarcotics priorities include strengthening the Afghan government’s capacity to combat the drug trade as a critical element of securing and sustaining broader stability and security matters, and to deny revenue to anti-government actors. Rule of law priorities include improving and expanding access to the state justice sector, increasing capacity, reducing corruption, and partnering with the Government of Afghanistan to develop a safe, secure, and humane corrections system that meets international standards and Afghan cultural requirements.
Accomplishments: INL has worked hard alongside the Afghan government to implement comprehensive reforms with measurable achievements. Training, advising, exchanges, and targeted programs have addressed key needs in counternarcotics and rule of law. Services practically absent a decade ago now provide functional service to the Afghan people, with Afghans taking on an increasing leadership role.
- As a direct result of Department of Justice and INL support, Afghanistan has passed and enforces a robust drug law, administers a secure facility in which defendants are tried and held, and deploys highly trained legal practitioners to conduct the cases, resulting in over 2,355 appellate court convictions since 2009.
- Specialized units of the Counternarcotics Police of Afghanistan are now able to independently develop intelligence, and request and execute their own warrants. Evidence gathered through court-ordered surveillance operations has increased the number of large-scale drug trafficking and related corruption cases brought to the Counter Narcotics Justice Center.
- INL-supported drug treatment centers provide residential, outpatient, vocational rehabilitation, and home-based assistance to over 28,000 persons per year, including specialized centers for women and children. INL also trains prevention and treatment professionals in the Universal Treatment Curriculum and the Universal Prevention Curriculum.
- INL worked with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Counter Narcotics to develop an anti-drug curriculum for Afghan schools. The curriculum has reached about 600,000 students, and approximately 1,900 teachers have been trained.
Rule of Law:
- With INL support, justice and corrections institutions across Afghanistan are now using an on-line case management system (CMS) that tracks criminal and civil cases from arrest through sentencing to release. This database, which has more than 400,000 cases registered as of 2018, helps reduce corruption and increases transparency and efficiency across a range of government ministries.
- INL partners with U.S. law schools to train the next generation of Afghan legal professionals through the establishment of the first undergraduate law degree program at the American University of Afghanistan and sponsored 121 Afghans to earn LLM or PhD degrees as of August 2018.
- INL funds legal aid offices and family guidance centers in multiple Afghan provinces educating Afghan citizens about their legal rights and providing legal and social services to women and children who have experienced gender-based violence or trafficking-in-persons. These offices and centers helped over 10,000 Afghans in 2018 alone.
- In partnership with the Department of Justice, INL builds the capacity of Afghan justice sector actors through high-level mentoring and training to investigate and prosecute complex cases involving corruption, major crimes, narcotics, money laundering, and threat finance and terrorism.
- INL-supported protective shelters serve over 3,000 women and children survivors of gender-based violence a year.
- Since 2012, INL has supported the General Directorate for Prisons and Detention Centers (GDPDC) through the development of a Classification and Case Management system that allows the directorate to track and manage its inmate population. For the past two years, INL has worked in coordination with law enforcement and justice sector actors to build the nationwide Case Management System, which can track offenders from arrest through to release.
- INL’s Corrections System Support Program (CSSP) trains around 1,200 corrections officers per year, on average, on a variety of basic and specialized topics. Since December 2013, GDPDC has conducted all of its own pre-employment trainings at the National Training Center in Kabul.
- No GDPDC facilities were cited for human rights violations by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s 2017 report on Afghan prisons and detention centers.