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Alnoor Meghani

Photo of Alnoor Meghani

An internationally focused legal career is a natural fit for Alnoor Meghani.

Born and raised in Tanzania, East Africa, Alnoor and his family immigrated to Canada as a result of the turbulent political and human rights situations in his homeland in the 1970s. 

“As a child, I had experienced at first hand issues relating to human rights, so I appreciated Canada’s multicultural and pluralist environment,” says Alnoor.

“I feel connected to these types of issues, and want others to have the benefit, the luxury, of what I have in Canada.”

He studied at the University of Calgary, graduating with a BA in psychology in 1979, and then completed his LL.B at the University of Ottawa in 1985. He articled and practised in Calgary with a private firm which was the standing agent for the Department of Justice Canada in Narcotic Control Act and Food and Drugs Act matters. 

He was recruited by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada in 1989. Although working for an international development agency was exciting, after some time it became clear to Alnoor that he was becoming a “frustrated actor who was missing the courtroom environment.” 

In 1994, he returned to working as a standing agent in Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and Income Tax Act matters. Four years later, he was permanently recruited to the Department as part of the Integrated Proceeds of Crime Unit.

His internationally focused public service career began in 2003.

After the Afghanistan war started, Alnoor was the prosecutor chosen to assist the International Cooperation Group as the project manager for the “Afghanistan Project.” 

In this role, he visited Kabul and was involved in the creation of a manual for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The manual, designed primarily for use by the AIHRC and other groups involved in human rights issues, focused on topics such as how to interview abused people, how to apply appropriate interview techniques when talking to women and children and what signs of abuse to look for when visiting prisons. 

In order to more fully satisfy his interest in international work, in 2004 he became the Field Project Director of the Department’s Legal Reform Project in Bangladesh. 

The aim of the project was to provide legal and technical assistance to the Bangladeshi Ministry of Law, the Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, and the Law Commission and to strengthen the country’s criminal justice system. The project provided training to the drafters on modern legislative drafting principles, worked to increase the capacity of the Law Commission, and assisted in identifying issues that impacted the criminal justice system, including gender. 

In Bangladesh, a major challenge was the scarcity, if not absence, of legal publications to give correct and up-to-date texts of the laws in force. This made it extremely difficult for the courts, lawyers and citizens not only to keep track of the flow of new laws, but also to ascertain the status of existing laws which have undergone extensive changes.

“Access to justice must necessarily mean that citizens should have access to the current laws,” says Alnoor.

The laws governing Bangladesh consisted of legislation from the British Raj period (1836–1947), the Pakistan period (1947–1971), and the years since independence. Additionally, all laws enacted after 1987 had to be in Bangla, the country’s official language. So the project undertook the task of consolidating all the laws from 1836 to January 2007. This resulted in 38 volumes, as well as an index in chronological and alphabetical order. 

These volumes were printed and made available on-line on the Ministry of Law’s Web site, because, as Alnoor points out, “rule-of-law and economic issues go hand in hand. Publicizing the nation’s laws to a wider audience, even outside the borders of Bangladesh, has a direct impact on poverty reduction, as knowing the laws of a country will help encourage foreign investment in a country.”

After the Afghanistan war started, Alnoor was the prosecutor chosen to assist the International Cooperation Group as the project manager for the “Afghanistan Project.” 

Alnoor believes it is very important for government institutions to be well established everywhere.

"In addition to access to health and education, there must also be access to justice as it preserves human dignity, and justice can and must always be administered by a governmental institution.”

As for the future, Alnoor remains firmly devoted to continuing to work on international issues.

He is now counsel with Justice’s International Legal Programs Section and the Director of the Sharaka Project, a technical legal capacity-building project with the Office of the Attorney General and the public prosecution service of the Palestinian Authority.

“Canada has a lot to offer to emerging democracies to help them establish themselves,” says Alnoor, and he plans to continue doing his part.

Photo of Alnoor Meghani