Justice and the Rule of Law Non-Existent for Many in Afghanistan
On January 31, 2011, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan sent an open letter to Afghanistan's Minister of Justice, Habibullah Ghalib, expressing outrage and demanding justice in the case of the stoning to death of a couple by the Taliban in Kunduz province in August 2010, as well as calling for increased efforts to expand the rule of law and entrench a functional justice sytem in Afghanistan. The letter was also sent to Canada's Ambassador to Afghanistan, William Crosbie, and to President Hamid Karzai. An excerpt follows:
We cannot convey in strong enough terms our shock and condemnation of the continued barbaric practice of stoning, captured so horrifically on a video clip recorded with the cell phone of a participant to this crime. The clip gives to the world graphic evidence of the stoning of 25-year-old Siddqa and her lover, Khayyam, in the northern province of Kunduz in August, 2010. It is our understanding that no one has yet been brought to justice for this abomination. Of course, those responsible include the large crowd of participants and onlookers who engaged in this frenzied sport of bloodlust that ultimately and so brutally took the lives of two innocent people.
We know that we add our voices to those of the wider international community and to the majority of the people of Afghanistan, in rejecting any claim that this crime is justifiable as a religious or cultural practice. It is undeniably public torture and murder, and represents the gravest of human rights violations, according to both international human rights law and to the criminal laws of Afghanistan.
We urge the Afghan government to seriously commit to strengthening the rule of law in all parts of the country. This includes protecting and promoting human rights, building the capacity of the judiciary, especially in rural areas, where Afghan women and girls in particular remain most vulnerable. There are still no family courts anywhere outside of Kabul; the police are often ineffective in enforcing human rights protections; and women are routinely victimized by tribal justice systems. A weak justice sector has meant that women continue to be the victims of honour killings, community and domestic violence, rape, forced marriages, “baad” marriages arranged to resolve blood feuds, and stonings.
Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, the level of progress is unacceptable. While in the case of Siddqa and Khayyam, the Taliban remain the perpetrators, the Government of Afghanistan, and its international partners, also share in the responsibility for failing to protect these two young people from a sadistic community “justice” system.
We implore the Afghan Government to commit to providing security and the rule of law in all provinces. One small indicator of this commitment would be the prompt and long overdue prosecution of the murderers of Siddqa and Khayyam since this revolting crime has come to the attention of the entire world.