By Sgt. Ashley BellJanuary 18, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - After a visit to the Afghanistan Captured Material Exploitation Lab here, several Afghan officials attended an evidence-based operations seminar to discuss issues regarding case filing and the importance of taking the proper steps to build cases.
"Our role is to bring them together by allowing the police, prosecutors and judges to tour the forensic lab together and to participate in evidence collection processes," said Col. Randall Bagwell, the Regional Command South staff judge advocate.
"They discuss the issues while experiencing them and gain a better understanding of their respective roles in the justice system. At this seminar it wasn't NATO troops talking as much as NATO providing a venue for Afghan justice officials talking among themselves."
The attendees at the seminar were senior officials including judges, prosecutors and members of the Afghan Uniformed Police and the National Directorate of Security.
"The panel did a phenomenal job and increased the understanding of the Afghans in attendance," said Capt. Amanda Presson, a Rule of Law attorney for Regional Command South.
Presson was not the only one who felt the evidence-based seminars were accomplishing its goal.
These seminars allow police, prosecutors and judges to discuss their views on evidence admissibility in Afghan courts, said Bagwell.
Afghan Col. Ramatullah Sediqi the 404th Zone Maiwand criminal investigative division chief spoke about the influence they've had on the population and how the Afghan people have more trust in their government.
"There are a lot of positive changes because of friends and partners," said Sediqi. "There was distance between the people and the government, but now it is getting smaller."
According to Sediqi government officials have worked 338 cases during the last 9 months; 28 of those cases are still under work. The types of cases range from theft, murder and injury.
The Maiwand zone has also biometrically enrolled over 17,935 individuals, according to Sediqi. This biometric enrollment includes but is not limited to officers, soldiers, political prisoners, the local population and suspicious soldiers.
"We must focus on what kind of evidence they have," said Abdul Razaq, the deputy prosecutor for national security crimes. "Once they get information they (police) have to take it very seriously, they have to be accurate."
Three events Razaq considered important at the crime scene is police holding security around the area, collecting all the evidence and putting it all together safely in the bag.
This is the third evidence-based seminar hosted here at KAF and there is interest by the Afghans in holding their own conferences in the future.
Their passion for the law was clearly demonstrated today as the panel members and attendees engaged in dialogue, which will strengthen the Rule of Law in Afghanistan, said Presson.
"It is clear to me after participating in three of these seminars that the Afghan justice system is ready to take the next step in better evidence collecting, which will result in better evidence presented at trial and ultimately a more fair and just legal system," said Bagwell.