Ministers Cannon and Day Conclude Successful Visit to Afghanistan and Announce Additional Support for Rule of Law

(No. 69 - March 17, 2009) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, today concluded a three-day visit to Afghanistan during which they announced additional support from Canada to help strengthen the rule of law in that country. Strengthening the rule of law is one of Canada's six priorities in Afghanistan.

The ministers' visit included working meetings with Afghan ministers and senior government officials. The Canadian ministers also had in-depth discussions on Canada's mission in Afghanistan with Canadian military and civilian officials there. The ministers were able to see, first-hand, the important work Canadians, Afghans and international partners are doing in this challenging environment.

"This visit was extremely beneficial as Canada looks forward to participating in the United Nations Afghanistan conference in The Hague on March 31," said Minister Cannon. "Moreover, during this visit, we reaffirmed Canada's commitment to Afghanistan through the announcement of funding to strengthen the rule of law. With this new contribution, Canada is taking action to help Afghans assume responsibility for more of their own security."

"Policing, courts and corrections continue to be priority focuses for Afghanistan and Canada. A credible rule-of-law system is vital to making people and communities feel more secure," said Minister Day. "Canadians can be proud that our soldiers and civilians are at work in Kandahar, Kabul and Ottawa to help rebuild Afghanistan as a better governed, more peaceful and more secure country."

During their visit, ministers Cannon and Day announced that Canada will help strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan through a contribution of over $21 million. They travelled to the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, where they toured the Police Training Centre and hosted an event for Canadian civilian and military personnel.

The ministers also visited a police substation and Sarpoza Prison, where Canada is involved in repairing infrastructure and training activities. They took the opportunity to discuss Canada's role with correctional and Afghan National Police officials and staff.

In addition, the ministers held a round-table discussion with key representatives of the Kandahar economic sector to explore economic and educational opportunities for the citizens of Kandahar.

On this trip, ministers Cannon and Day took part in a series of successful working meetings with Afghan and international officials, including Kandahar's Governor Tooryalai Wesa. The ministers also spent a day in Kabul, where they met with President Hamid Karzai, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Minister of Interior Affairs Mohammad Hanif Atmar and Minister of Commerce and Industry Wahidullah Shahrani. They reaffirmed Canada's long-term commitment to Afghanistan and discussed the real and ongoing challenges that need to be addressed. The Canadian and Afghan ministers agreed to work together to create a strong, stable and secure country.

For more information, please visit Canada's Engagement in Afghanistan.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Catherine Loubier
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Mélisa Leclerc
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-6186

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000

Backgrounder

Canada Provides Additional Support for the Rule of Law in Afghanistan

Canada recently announced that it will help strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan through a contribution of more than $21 million:

  1. $20 million will be provided to the United Nations Development Programme Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, which brings Canada's total contribution to almost $70 million. The Trust Fund is the main instrument for paying the salaries of all Afghan National Police and Afghan corrections officers. Of this current contribution, $19 million will pay for the salaries of Afghan National Police and $1 million will support the salaries of corrections officers.
  2. $1.3 million will go to the Human Rights Support Unit within the Afghan Ministry of Justice, underlining Canada's commitment to help strengthen the Afghan justice system and help build the Government of Afghanistan's capacity to protect and promote human rights. In addition, Canada will contribute approximately $350,000 to support the reconstruction efforts required following the February 11, 2009, attacks against the Ministry of Justice and the Central Prison Department in Kabul.

On March 11, 2009, the Afghan Ministry of the Interior (MOI) accredited the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team Training Centre for the provision of Canadian instruction. This is an important development, as courses given by Canadian civilian police will now be officially recognized by the MOI. This will allow Canada to accelerate its training program to strengthen Afghan National Police reform and development by providing specialized and advanced courses in support of the overall effort of the international community, including the U.S.-led Focused District Development program. Courses would include, among other topics, leadership and management development, instructor development, officer safety and survival, basic criminal investigation, crowd control, driver training and first aid.

There are currently 24 civilian police officers from the RCMP and other municipal police agencies deployed with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. Civilian police have been deployed to Kandahar since August 2005. Their primary role is to monitor, advise, mentor and train the Afghan National Police.