Afghanistan: UN-backed anti-drug task force starts up operations
The United Nations-backed special counter-narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF), created to fast-track major drug cases within Afghanistan, officially began operations today, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
The Task Force was set up in January 2005 by the Government of Afghanistan with the support from UNODC and donor countries, including United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium. The United States is providing additional operational support.
Over the last few months, training courses have been conducted, offices have been established and equipment and materials have been provided. So far, the Task Force consists of 84 members including 36 investigators, 33 prosecutors and 15 judges.
Another 60 members will join the force over the next few months after having received the relevant training by the Italian non-governmental organization (NGO) ISISC. This will bring the total number of Task Force members to 144 by the end of October 2005.
The CJTF’s aim is to bring offenders of drug-related crime to justice quickly and its creation falls within the framework of strengthening the criminal justice system as well as the establishment of secure court and prison facilities in Afghanistan, UNODC said.
In a pilot phase carried out earlier this year, following the training of a first group of 20 judicial professionals, 69 cases were investigated, 62 prosecuted and 22 decided by the court.
The CJTF is based in Kabul but also operates in the provinces. Its activities will be conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and Office of the Attorney General, the UNODC statement also said.