Afghanistan

strenghtening the rule of law


The history of Afghanistan is a fascinating kaleidoscope of peoples and beliefs engulfed in a perpetual state of conflict. What its history tells us is that Afghanistan has never been an isolated country. The British drew its eastern borders in 1893 and the Soviet Union supported a rapid 'modernisation' and implementation of socialist reforms which escalated into armed conflict in the 1970s and 80s. The U.S. openly supported the rise of the Taliban and, in 2001, following a civil war and brief but very destructive Taliban government, the country again became center stage - this time in the international fight against terrorism.


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Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) were established in 2002. The compounds were under military command but housed also diplomats and civilian experts. The Hungarian PRT compound in Pol-e Khomry, Baghnlan, Afghanistan.
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A local doctor and his close protection gazing over Kabul from the notorious “Swimming Pool Hill”. Kabul, Afghanistan.
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An important aspect of rule of law is enabling the private sector to develop. A carwash in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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Street scene in Herat, Afghanistan.
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Following the Bonn Agreement, Germany assumed responsibility for police training. The German Police Project Team providing training at the German center at Camp Marmal, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan.
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A police officer next to a police vehicle on a snowy day at Police Head Quarters, Kunduz, Afghanistan.
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Police in training at the German training center, Camp Marmal, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan.
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In 2013 the UN reported that flagrant violations were taking place in detention centers across the country. Kunduz was specifically implicated. A detention cell, Kunduz, Afghanistan.
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Dr. Sima Samar, in 2014 she was the chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. At a meeting with international colleagues.
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A young female member of the Afghan Independent Bar Association attending a Justice and Criminal Procedure training in Herat, Afghanistan.
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Police and prosecutors being taught Justice and Criminal Procedure by a national trainer. Strengthen cooperation with the judiciary was articulated as a strategic objective in 2010. Police Head Quarters, Kunduz, Afghanistan.
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A high-ranking official on a visit to a Justice and Criminal Procedure training. The training coincided with the hand-over of the training center to national authorities. Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan.
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Civilian experts rely on military transport to and from the provinces. The inside of a helicopter. Somewhere over Baghlan, Afghanistan.
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In high-conflict provinces courses were often held at provincial training centers annexed to or within military compounds. A Lynx helicopter departing from the British led center in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan.
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A young soldier assigned as a “guardian angel” to a civilian expert during delivery of training in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan.
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Soldiers departing with a Chinook helicopter from “The Citadel” – the British camp in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan.
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A solider maintaining a helicopter at Camp Arena, Herat, Afghanistan.

What the International community found in the wake of the Taliban was an almost total erosion of all government institutions and their ability to provide some of the basic services to the population. The police and the judiciary were practically non-existent as warlords divided the country into private spheres of influence.

To date, strong ethnic and tribal ties continue to define the social and political landscape of Afghanistan and often dictate the law that rules. The importance given to kin and ethnicity has contributed to nearly endemic corruption and often arbitrary exercise of power. “The Rule of Law” is ultimately a set of norms regulating the often-complex relationship between the State and the individual - a relationship which in Afghanistan is fragile at best. In Afghanistan, few trust in the capacity of the government institutions to pave the way for a more sustainable life or provide security.

"I've been a Mujaheed all my life and now you want me to teach your justiceā€¦"

The country is still trying to consolidate a common identity as the fabric of society is a patchwork of norms and regulations that at times overlap but more often conflict. Thus, strengthening the rule of law is nothing short of a challenge. It entails working with a multidimensional jigsaw puzzle consistent of tradition, customs, religious beliefs, and remnants of Taliban justice. Working in Afghanistan as a civilian expert entails to preach alternatives to war in a heavily militarised environment which only reinforces the perception of the State as the ultimate powerhouse.

The photos bring a human dimension to the common effort of the international community to facilitate a transition from years of conflict. Fallckolm Cuenca recalls –

"Being responsible for training police and prosecutors across the country, I specifically remember one training. One man in particular, did not say a single word during the ten days of lectures. At the closing ceremony he told me – I've been a Mujaheed all my life and now you want me to teach your justice…"


Fallckolm Cuenca was working in Afghanistan between 2012 -2015 as a civilian expert for the European Union. The photos were taken while delivering countrywide training to prosecutors and police officers together with a team of national trainers. Follow the link for an interview with Fallckolm in the Chicago Policy Review.

Learn
more about

the Rule of Law on SDGI Consulting - Sweden where you can find an explanatory model. SDGI also offers training and seminars for practitioners on how to operationalise the concept.

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