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International Law

Taliban is, Increasingly, a Source of ‘Justice’ in Afghanistan

Posted Dec 16, 2008 2:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although Afghanistan officially has government courts to settle civil disputes and rule on criminal matters, there is another option that citizens, in some cases, are pursuing in order to get swift--and, some say, fair--resolution of their claims.

Rather than pay a bribe to a government judge, they would rather have a Taliban judge apply Islamic law, reports National Public Radio. Its account is part of a series on the justice system and rule of law in Afghanistan, and continues tomorrow with a report on how Americans are training judges there to spot corruption.

It is widely recognized that the country's government courts are in disarray after years of warfare. Depending on whom you talk to, however, a Taliban judge is either a source of swift and certain justice or too much feared, because of his affiliation with the Islamist insurgent group, to be protested as an arbiter of disputes up to and including crimes that can result in the death penalty.

People seek Taliban justice because government courts are slow and corrupt, says an Asadabad taxi driver, Habib Noor.

But Nawab Momand, an Afghan television reporter, says he saw a frightening side of this so-called Islamic justice system when he and several friends were kidnapped in September and he was accused of working for an Indian construction company at a Taliban court held in a ruined house somewhere in the desert.

Although the chief judge recognized him, and released him (admonishing him that he needed to provide more favorable news coverage), he says others have been put to death by such Taliban courts for allegedly working with U.S. or NATO forces, the Afghan government or foreign contractors.

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