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Afghan man learns about American law through program at Wake Forest

Hafizullah Hamid, LL.M. Candidate, '13

Hafizullah Hamid, LL.M. Candidate, '13

Five years ago, Afghan citizens charged with a crime weren’t entitled to a defense attorney to advocate for their rights. Things have changed, but Hafizullah Hamid says there remains plenty of work to do. He wants to do his part to help reform the justice system in Afghanistan.

That desire for reform is one of the main reasons Hamid, 29, came to Wake Forest University School of Law this fall as part of a one-year program to study the American justice system.

“The law is not equally applied to all Afghan citizens as it is applied in all other democratic and developed countries,” he said. “We need to support and strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan. That would help us to apply the law to all Afghan citizens without any discrimination.”

Hamid is among a generation of young attorneys in Afghanistan working on judicial reforms. He is one of 24 foreign students in Wake Forest law school’s program, begun in 1998, to gives foreign-born students an opportunity to earn a master’s degree in American law that can enhance their legal careers in their home country.

Hamid, who grew up in Mazar-e-sharif, one of the largest cities in Afghanistan, has worked the past five years with various international organizations to reform the judicial system in Afghanistan, including Afghan Woman Services Foundation and the United Nations Development Program. He was most recently the senior legal adviser for the Attorney General’s Office, a section of the Afghanistan Justice Sector Support Program, which is paid for through the U.S. Department of State and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Hamid received his law degree and a degree in political science from Balkh University in 2006. His wife and two sons are still in Afghanistan. He has three sisters and a younger brother. His father is a retired military officer in the Afghan army, and his mother ran a tailoring business, Hamid said.

Hamid received a scholarship from the Public-Private Partnership for Justice Reform in Afghanistan to attend Wake Forest law school. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice founded the partnership in 2007.

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