concatenation of events

Waging war on journalists who lie. Exposing the truth about Jack Idema, whose story must be told.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Interesting article which depicts a sad state of affairs and an appalling waste of money internationally. The root causes are not being addressed; humanitarians will not succeed when lawlessness and poverty reigns. Afghanistan's justice system is broken, money and bribery rules.

KABUL (AINA), June 7, 2006— Afghanistan’s history is one of war, violent uprising, chaos, and lawlessness. In a country where only one city, Kabul, is truly under control of the central government, and even that is sometimes in question, law is an elusive theory a best.

Afghan courts are permeated with corruption and bribery, 4,000 prosecutors work for payoffs, not justice, the police can be bought off in the drop of hat, or in their case, by dropping a few thousand Afghani, roughly $40. Murder your neighbor and pay the police $250 to write a report that says self defense. Car accident? It will cost you $20 if it’s the other guys fault and $40 if it is your fault. Either way, you pay. If you don’t have money to pay, your case goes from the police department to the prosecutor’s office. Add another zero to justice, because now even a simple crime will cost a $100 plus. Murder, narcotics trafficking, kidnapping, and other violent crimes will cost you $500 to $1000. Everyone needs a slice of the pie; police, prosecutors, and the, judges. Families that cannot afford a bag of rice sell all they can, from jewelry to daughters, to raise the money to buy a son or husband out of prison.

In Afghanistan, crime is a business, not just for the criminals, but for the police, the judges, and most of all, the prosecutors. And it isn’t just actual crime; it’s the allegation of crime. If you have money, or someone thinks you have money, plan on being arrested at some point. Hopefully you have the money to buy your way out. Police make $40 per month salary, barely enough to feed a single man, no less a family of five, and most have more depending on them, from mothers, sisters, wives, and children, lots of children. A cop doesn’t have much of a choice. Food, house rent, medicine, all of it funded by how adept you will be at finding a patsy, fabricating a criminal charge, making the offer, and collecting the money.

The justice system is broke, the prison system broke, the administration is broke, and the whole country is broke. Five years after US Army Special Forces teams and Northern Alliance soldiers liberated Afghanistan from the grip of terror and oppression by Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists, the entire country still remains neglected, pitifully poor, and in a vicious state of disrepair and disorder.

Few of President George W. Bush’s promises to the Afghan people have been met. Fewer of President Hamid Karzai’s promises have been even attempted. With more than 6 billion US dollars going into an imploding Iraq every month, the Afghans are lucky to be able to scrap up a few million in international donations each month. Britain just promised $71 million dollars in aid. Not to the country of Afghanistan, but to a province partially, if not principally, controlled by the Taliban insurgency, which is growing daily. In a way, it could be construed as a British bribe. The theory being that if you throw money at areas of insurgency, the insurgency will diminish. It is a long standing theory of appeasement, one which has not worked anywhere else, so the question remains why do western diplomats still consider it a viable option?

More than 400 people have been killed in the last month, thousands wounded, and the situation is deteriorating so fast that it is not an unlikely possibility that the country may eventually fall back into the hands of the Taliban, or a Taliban inspired faction. Some experts say Kandahar, the birth region of Hamid Karzai, is already under the Taliban’s control, especially during the darkness that descends over a country with inadequate and limited electricity. Yesterday the Taliban attempted to assassinate the governor with a car bomb that killed and wounded civilians and US military bodyguards in the core of the city. Hardly what could be considered an improving security situation.

These are just some of the problems, but what are the answers? Experts and diplomats believe that studies, reports, and surveys can determine those answers, but the reports usually spend their words identifying the problems, which seem obvious to everyone reading the analyses.

The answers seem obvious to anyone that has lived in Afghanistan among the people for any period of time, traveled in the outer regions, or walked the streets of Kabul. Raise the salaries of the police by double, still a pittance in the scheme of things— a top police general only earns $85 per month. Set up an anti-corruption task force with the power to indict and try officials who take bribes. Cast off the Islamic tribunal styled justice system, putting in place juries instead of judges to hear cases. Impanel those juries for months at a time—unlike western countries it is not likely a jury would complain about missing their jobs. To combat terrorism, form special military units from the old and experienced militias—now jobless—to act as border police and provincial national guards. Make all prosecutors answerable to the Attorney General, not in concept, but in reality. And give the Attorney General the power to follow the law, reprimand and fire judges, and investigate bribery and corruption.

Afghanistan’s Parliament wants to try the US army convoy driver for the deaths which occurred during the riots. Afghan courts put a newspaper editor in prison last year for publishing an article on women’s rights. A Muslim man who converted to Christianity was sentenced to hang, until the Vatican bought him out of prison and spirited him away on an Italian military aircraft to Rome. Three Americans were imprisoned for ten years for arresting terrorists—one of the alleged terrorists was a Supreme Court judge— even the prosecutors admitted they stopped the assassination of a Karzai opponent now elected as the Chief of Parliament. Why they haven’t bribed their way out is a good question. Last January seven top Taliban terrorists bought their freedom and walked out the front gate of Afghanistan’s most secure prison. An American soldier traveling on military orders, but without a visa, was jailed for weeks before the US Embassy found and released him. An American aid worker was imprisoned for carrying a personal weapon—not unreasonable when you count the kidnappings, beheadings, and daily attacks on foreigners. He says his freedom cost $10,000—apparently foreign justice is a bit more expensive. Foreign property is regularly confiscated by police and held hostage until the appropriate bribes are paid. Legal rights, if there ever were any, have disappeared. The “Rule of Law” as Afghans call it, is governed by the power of bahkshesh, the “dollar bribe.”

This concatenation of events must end.


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