Showing posts with label rule of law. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rule of law. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1

Under construction

A Tweet from one of the great teachers in my past, Bob Reich: "Laws not backed by sufficient enforcement resources are aspirations, not laws. Cutbacks at OSHA, SEC are repeals."

Restoring rule of law is an uphill climb after a reduction in enforcement. A breakdown in enforcement in one area spreads to other areas, as government employees and citizens cut corners and rationalize wrongdoing. Inconsistencies build, and citizens quickly lose faith in the system. Restoring the rule of law and citizen trust is more time consuming than destroying these systems.

And so it is with the Constitution of Afghanistan. 

Article Seven maintains, "The state shall prevent all kinds of terrorist activities, cultivation and smuggling of narcotics." Article Seventeen suggests the country "shall adopt necessary measures to foster education all levels, develop religious teachings, regulate and improve the conditions of mosques, religious schools as well as religious centers." Article Twenty-Two forbids "any kind of discrimination" and "The citizens of Afghanistan, men and woman [sic], have equal rights and duties before this law."

Article Twenty-Three:: "Life is the gift of God.... No one shall be deprived of this except by legal provision."  Twenty-Four: "Liberty is the natural right of human beings. This right has no limits unless affecting others [sic] freedoms as well as the public interest, which shall be regulated by law."

Article Twenty-Five maintains that "Innocence is the original state," that the accused are innocent until proven guilty by an authoritative court."

Torture is illegal. Persecution is forbidden.  Freedom of expression is inviolable.  There is a right to privacy around correspondence.  Personal residences are immune from trespassing without official court orders. Forced labor is forbidden. "Education is the right of all citizens of Afghanistan, which shall be offered up to the B.A. level in the state educational institutes free of charge by the state," according to Article Forty-Three, and Forty-Four encourages programs to "foster balanced education for women, improve education of nomads as well as eliminate illiteracy in the country." 

Those who would over-ride any of these articles can point to Article Two, which enshrines Islam as the state religion and prohibits any law that may contradict those beliefs. Even though Islam might endorse all the other articles of the constitution, the extremists develop their own interpretations to defy the rule of law. Stability in Afghanistan will depend on imams with the courage to speak out against manipulative, partial use of the religion to defend criminal acts.

Yes, laws that go unenforced are no longer laws.

And the difficulty of obtaining an online photo of the Afghan capitol building is notable, apparently a security measure. 

Photo of Kabul's largest mosque, Abdul Rahman Mosque, from Joe Burger and Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, March 21

Rule of law

The only recourse against bullies is the rule of law, according to professionals in the West. But sometimes the bullies oversee judicial systems. So naturally a problem emerges when wronged individuals do not have access to fair courts. 

 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 shurasjirgas, 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.