Monday, March 7 marked the opening of a new courthouse in Laskar Gah, a joint effort of the U.S. Government and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The courthouse, which represents an essential addition to the formal rule of law sector in Helmand, will house the Chief Justice of Helmand and his staff, as well as two main courtrooms. The construction was completed by local construction firms using local labor.
"This new institution will always remind the people of Helmand of our enduring partnership with America and our mutual commitment to justice," Deputy Provincial Chief Justice Abdul Majid Khardim noted at the opening ceremony. Also in attendance were the Governor of Helmand Province, Gulab Mangal, Chief of the Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team Michael O'Neil, Regional Command-South West (RC-SW) Deputy Commander Brigadier General George Norton, and U.S. Senior Civilian Representative for RC-SW Andrew Erickson.
"The inauguration of the Lashkar Gah Courthouse is a grand symbol of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's commitment to individual and collective justice for the citizens of Helmand Province," said Andrew Erickson, the US Senior Civilian Representative, in his speech at the ceremony.
The need for a courthouse in Lashkar Gah was identified through consultations by the Special Initiatives Program Coordinator in 2007. The request was further supported by letters sent to the U.S. Government, through USAID, by the Afghan Supreme Court, the Helmand Judiciary Court and the Governor's Office. The Supreme Court also detailed sample courthouse designs and played a key role in identifying project deliverables and developing the work plan. The project to build the courthouse has been managed under USAID's flagship stabilization program, the Local Governance and Community Development Project (LGCD).
This has been the single biggest project by value for the LGCD project in Helmand, with U.S. investment in construction, infrastructure, furnishings and information technology totaling nearly $872,000.
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