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The Killid Group
Law courts vs mock courtsWritten by Noor Wali Sayeed, Noorajan Baheer and Qurban Hekmat
Saturday, 10 March 2012 11:19
Punishment for erring judges together with fairness and accountability would help restore people's faith in the law courts. Some think it will not be enough because fundamental reforms are needed.
Last week the high court of Khost awarded sentences from one to five years imprisonment to five judges suspended on corruption and bribery charges.
Blatant corruption has tarnished the justice system, forcing people to turn to the Taleban and local commanders for justice. This has been happening more in Khost than other provinces where the Taleban are influential.
Local people who Killid spoke to confirmed the trend but did not want to be identified. One person said he had taken the help of a local Taleb leader located across the fluid border in Miranshah in northern Waziristan, Pakistan. He said that he had wanted justice for the murder of his wife by his brothers on charges of adultery. He wanted his brothers to be punished. When asked why he had not taken the matter to the court, he said, "I don't have trust in this regime that I would get my right."
No appeals, no courts
Courts that exist on paper do not have a building or staff. Noor Mohammad, head of administration in the Appeal Department of the Attorney General's office in Khost province said as a result of shortage of administrative staff, people not coming with their appeals, insecurity and remoteness of nine of the 12 districts, the justice system was working only in three districts.
Likewise the high court has closed the courts in Charsada, Doolina, Shahrak, Pasaband, Saghar and Teewara districts of Ghor province since September 2011, according to Abdullah, the head of the provincial appeal court. He says the judges were being threatened by the powerful commanders.
Mohammad Sarwar, a resident of Charsada district, told Killid since the court has been closed the people resolve their issues through local commanders, Taliban and headmen of villages.
Failings of the system
Jawad Rezayee, head of the regional office of the AIRHC (Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission) in Ghor says the nonexistence of courts shows and proves the absence of government authority. He says as a result of corruption, failure to implement the rule of law, and a lengthy justice process people have turned to local commanders for speedy justice. He says there were 73 cases of assassination last year, and not one arrest was made.
Will the sentencing of judges restore faith in the system?
Shamasullah Ahmadzai, head of the regional AIHRC office in Kabul believes it will. "The action of the high court will be effective in eliminating corruption, and we hope the high court will do more."
Lal Gul, head of AIHRC, commends the judiciary. "The judiciary is the backbone of the country so the reforms should be considered seriously."
Abdul Sartar Sadat, lawyer and defence attorney, disagrees. "I think the high court needs basic and fundamental reforms. The imprisonment of judges is not enough."