Thursday, March 21
Rule of law
The United States Institute of Peace writes about Afghanistan:
"An estimated 80 percent of all criminal and civil disputes in Afghanistan are resolved outside the formal legal system through various community forums known as shuras, jirgas, and jalasas. Disputants often prefer to have their cases resolved by community dispute resolution mechanisms that are popularly viewed by most Afghans as more accessible, less costly, more legitimate, and less corrupt than government courts. Many Afghans find the latter more in tune with cultural values promoting consensus and reconciliation, rather than punitive retribution alone."
Unfortunately, half the population - women - are excluded from overseeing these proceedings and the decisions rendered. Women still prefer the traditional forms of resolution.
The institute also takes pains to point out that individual interpretations can vary. One adjudicator may emphasize forgiveness and another emphasizes compensation or punishment. Evidence can be found in acceptable documents to support a range of alternative narratives: "USIP seeks to establish an understanding of the Afghan-Islamic normative values of Islamic jurisprudence. USIP is also expanding its programming to examine land dispute resolution and promote efforts to improve community legal awareness of rights and criminal law by engaging youth and media."
The rule of law is essential for Afghanistan to achieve security and stability. The US Department of State also lists other programs on the rule of law.
Photo of Kunar Judge Ansarullah Mawlawizada updates supreme court judges on Afghan law in 2010, courtesy of US Army Spc. Richard Daniels and Wikimedia Commons.