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Volume 449: debated on Wednesday 19 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2006, Official Report, column 1150W, on Afghanistan, what the (a) name and (b) job description is of each of the UK-funded advisers who are members of the Provisional Reconstruction Team. (85425)

The UK is funding the provision of advisers working in the fields of governance, police reform and justice/rule of law to the UK-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province. All will work to promote the development of effective and transparent provincial governance in line with the Afghan Government’s administrative reform processes. This will include helping to build capacity to plan, co-ordinate and implement the provision of basic public services and to exercise the rule of law. It will focus on helping local governance institutions, including the governor’s office, provincial departments of line Ministries, the Provincial Council and Provincial Development Committee, to design and deliver the activities required to fulfil their mandates. The advisers will seek to facilitate the roll-out of current programmes from the national level to Helmand.

The governance adviser will aim to strengthen provincial public administration and representative and planning institutions. The police adviser will co-ordinate UK activities in southern Afghanistan in support of the Afghan police, building contacts with and the capacity of provincial and district police chiefs. The justice/rule of law adviser will aim to strengthen the criminal justice system, identifying ways to address linkages between informal and formal justice sector institutions, and to strengthen dispute-resolution mechanisms.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) UN and (b) EU officials are based in the Provisional Reconstruction Team in Helmand Province; and what the purpose is of each. (85473)

There are no UN or EU officials currently based in the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Helmand Province.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him on 5 July 2006, Official Report, column 1150W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to promote the equal application of law to women and men in Afghanistan; and what assessment she has made of women’s access to legal representation in Afghanistan. (86483)

The Afghan constitution states that “the citizens of Afghanistan have equal rights and duties before the law”. The “Justice for All” Action Plan provides the basis for the reform of the Afghan justice sector over the next 12 years. The Plan is divided into five areas of activity: law reform, institution building, and access to justice programs, traditional justice and co-ordination. The Global Conflict Prevention Pool (the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development funded) has provided US $500,000 in support of this Action Plan. In addition, the FCO, through the Global Opportunities Fund is sponsoring a number of projects specifically designed to increase women’s access to justice, improve their living standards, promote women’s equal participation in governance, create a professional network of women’s rights organisations and promote access to information through the radio.

The UK fully supports the equal application of law in Afghanistan to women and men.