Judiciary of Afghanistan

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Afghanistan's judicial system is still under construction. The Justice Ministry is now working to set up a workable judicial system, but it seems to be taking some time.[when?]

Afghanistan’s judicial branch deteriorated during the Soviet occupation, and justice was administered by strict Islamic law during the Taliban era (1996–2001). To replace the ad hoc system in place under the transitional government, the constitution of 2004 stipulated that the Supreme Court include nine justices appointed by the president, with approval of the Wolesa Jirga, for 10-year terms. At the next level are high and appeals courts under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. A National Security Court handles cases of terrorism and other threats to national security.

Every province has a lower and a higher court; one is the highest authoritative source called the Supreme Court and another is the Office of the Attorney General, whose main assignment is to investigate cases first referred to a court. Both the branches work together; the Supreme Court also has local branches at provincial and district levels. Judicial procedures are influenced by local authorities and traditions and the supply of trained jurists is very limited; the transitional government established an education program to prepare judges, prosecutors, and defense lawyers, and in the early 2000s some individuals had received foreign training. However, the nominal requirements for participation in the judiciary are relatively high, and the pay is quite low; the respective roles of Islamic and secular law in the new national judicial system have not been well established; a large portion of the current law code is based on laws passed under the last king, Mohammad Zahir Shah (ruled 1933–73). In rural areas, where local elders and tribal authorities resolve criminal cases, Taliban laws have remained in effect, and verdicts often are based on Islamic and tribal law.


Further reading[edit]

For a detailed analysis of the justice system currently in place in Afghanistan see:

  • M. Tondini, Ubi Maior, Ibi Ius: Assessing Justice System Reform in Afghanistan, Lucca (IT): PhD Thesis at IMT - Institute for Advanced Studies, 2008 (abstract available here).
  • M. Tondini, Justice Sector Reform in Afghanistan: From a 'Lead Nation' Approach to a 'Mixed Ownership' Regime?, in Transition Studies Review, Vol. 15, No. 4, 2009, 660 - 673 (available here)
  • M. Tondini, From Neo-Colonialism to a 'Light-Footprint Approach': Restoring Justice Systems, in International Peacekeeping, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2008, 237 - 251 (preprint available here[permanent dead link]).
  • M. Tondini, Rebuilding the System of Justice in Afghanistan: A Preliminary Assessment, in Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2007, 333 - 354 (available here).
  • M. Tondini, The Role of Italy in Rebuilding the Judicial System in Afghanistan, in Revue de droit militaire et de droit de la guerre, Vol. 45, No. 1 - 2, 2006, 79 - 118.