Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghans Believe Rule of Law Vital to Security

Local experts say social injustice has spurred young people to join the Taleban.
By IWPR staff

The rule of law in Afghanistan has been badly un dermined  by war, corruption and the drugs trade, participants  in a series of IWPR-organised debates last month agreed.

Most of those taking part in debates in the Kunduz, Bamian and Farah provinces agreed that peace in Afghanistan would be impossible without security and proper observance of the law.

A number of speakers said a sense justice was a primary motivator in people’s lives, and they attributed the rising strength of the Taleban in Afghanistan to the government failure to ensure rule of law.

Wahidullah Rahmani, secretary of the High Peace Council in the northeastern Kunduz province, told the debate there that this failure had led to widespread injustices, which in turn had driven many young people to join the insurgents.

Marzia Rustami, a civil society activist in Kunduz, added that officials acted with impunity and called on the government figures to take action against this.

Afghanistan’s judiciary also came in for criticism, with speakers accusing it of failing to deliver justice in a fair and impartial manner.

Abdul Rahman Ahmadi, spokesman for the governor of Bamian in central Afghanistan, acknowledged that government sometimes struggled to implement its own laws. He pointed to the legislation on media regulation as an example, noting that “when the law was approved, Afghans were unfamiliar with modern media tools and the current needs of citizens. Of course, this issue has created many problems for the law enforcement agencies.”

University lecturer Shafaq Qaumyari told the Bamian debate that peace would only be achieved when human rights were truly respected.

“If someone has a fight or dispute in Afghanistan today, his goal is to obtain the rights which he has lost,” he said.

In the debate in the western Farah province, Gul Ahmad Azimi, a member of the upper house of Afghanistan’s parliament, said the legal system could not fully function amid persistent corruption and the sense that senior figures were above the law.

Civil society activist Jawed Tabesh added that numerous crimes had been committed in Farah since the fall of the Taleban regime in 2001, but there had been little opportunity for redress.

This report is based on an ongoing series of debates conducted as part of the IWPR programme Afghan Reconciliation: Promoting Peace and Building Trust by Engaging Civil Society.