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Most crime suspects denied access to legal aid

Most crime suspects denied access to legal aid

Nov 07, 2016 - 18:25

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Afghanistaninfo-icon Independent Bar Association (AIBA) on Monday said more than half of crime accused and suspects had no access to defense lawyers.

AIBA head, Roohullah Qarizada, told this to a gathering titled ‘early access to legal aid and role of judiciary and criminal organs’ in Kabul.

“Under Article 31 of the Constitution, one of the rights of suspects and accused is to have defense lawyers,” he said.

However, Qarizada regretted some parts of the Article 31 were being violated as people in detention centers in most of the districts had no access defense lawyers and legal assistance.

Detainees having access to defense lawyers in some areas were somehow denied legal assistance, he said.

He added defense lawyers should be allowed at least once a week to visit his client and follow his or her case. Currently a lawyer was not given the chance even in a month to visit his clients.

As an example, he said clients could rarely obtain access to their defendants in Pul-i-Charkhi and intelligence agency’s jails. Some defense lawyers are even threatened by intelligence officers, he said.

“Most of the suspects are denied access to defense lawyers. The form for a lawyer is filled by jail officers in unawareness of the suspect. The form is filled with the words that the suspect does not request for a lawyer,” he said.

There were currently 3,200 defense lawyers in the country, but their number should be 10,000 keeping in view the current high graph of crimes, Qarizada said.

Financial and administrative chief at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Sayed Mohammad Hashemi, confirmed the lack of suspects’ access to defense lawyers in most of the districts.

However, he said the MoJ was trying to pave the ground for such facilities.

Currently more than 30,000 people were held at detention centers and a number of prisoners were unaware about their own rights, he said, but added any ruling from court in the absence of defense lawyers was not credible.


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