Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, August 26th, 2019

Challenges Hampering Law Enforcement

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Challenges Hampering Law Enforcement

Democratic principles and human rights have been a dominant discourse in Afghanistan. Afghan Constitution has been approved following the Bonn Conference based on democracy and international values. One’s rights to life and liberty and the principle of nondiscrimination have been highly salient in the constitution.
Afghanistan’s post-Taliban Constitution officially recognized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the United Nations Charter, which point out human rights issues from a secular perspective.
To view the rights, freedoms, and dignity of mankind from the perspective of Afghan Constitution and UDHR, both men and women have equal rights and freedoms and racial, sexual, and religious discrimination has room in neither of them.
Afghan Constitution states in Article 22, “Any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.” Moreover, it is said in Article 24 that “liberty and human dignity are inviolable. The state shall respect and protect liberty as well as human dignity.”
Meanwhile, the UDHR states in Article 2, “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
Being supported by national and international principles and institutions, Afghan women have made great strides as they are holding high political positions. The level of sexual discrimination also decreased to a great extent. As a result of active participation of women rights organizations in spreading awareness and women’s empowerment, the social perspective towards women has changed to some level.
Since changing the deeply embedded traditional culture across Afghanistan is not possible overnight, challenges and obstacles still continue. Before pointing out the challenges, it should be noted that notwithstanding its recognition of UDHR and United Nations Charter, Afghan Constitution is contrary to some secular principles of the international instruments. For instance, Article 18 of UDHR which says that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private” will not be supported by Afghan Constitution as it articulates in Article 3, “No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan.” There are also some other items, including unlimited rights to marriage, in the UDHR which are in conflict with Afghan Constitution.
In terms of lack of law enforcement, there are two main obstacles. First, administrative corruption within the government’s body, including judicial system, has hampered law enforcement in Afghanistan. Afghan Constitution was violated mostly by officials and strongmen, who consider themselves beyond law. For example, delay in presidential and parliamentary elections, electoral rigging, violating law with impunity – to name but a few – are contrary to constitution. Afghanistan’s position on the top list of corrupt countries for many years suggests that officials are widely involved in corruption.
Meanwhile, the unmitigated insurgency across Afghanistan has been the second obstacle before law enforcement. Warring parties have not only been involved in gross violation of law and public rights, but also challenged the smooth implementation of law, especially in remote areas and tribal belts. Implementing their sharia – interpreted on parochial mindset – and tribal code of conduct, the Taliban fighters have been conducting desert courts in remote areas and punished men and women physically in public. Hence, their harsh practices and gross violation of law inflicted strong blow to democracy and human rights issues.
Racial and factional discrimination still continues in Afghanistan as high-ranking officials always seek to appoint individuals, who share the same racial and factional backgrounds, to high political positions. Such an orientation is highly felt within the government’s machinery. That is, preferring their individual interests to national interests, a number of officials violate law with impunity.
Considering the aforementioned facts, democratic and human rights discourse have been debated hotly and all layers of Afghan society have been affected in some ways. However, obstacles still hamper the smooth implementation of national laws, mainly the constitution. The rights and freedoms of Afghan men and women are being violated in one way or another. There are still individual and collective activities going on to undermine democratic values and the implementation of law.
To institutionalize democracy in Afghan society, officials have to observe national laws and implement them equally on individuals. Racial, sexual and religious discrimination should be ended. Civil society and the media should observe the implementation of law and raise their voice against injustice and lawlessness.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan and freelance writer based in Kabul. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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