Afghanistan

ITPCM Newsletter No. 22 - Dec 2009

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Afghan domestic justice system: a matter of time and training. Interview with Rosario Aitala: Legal Adviser - Rule of Law in Kabul

How is the institutional building progressing, particularly in the es­tablishment of the rule of law?

First of all allow me to clarify that my comments are aimed simply and exclusively at providing scien­tific analyses according to the tools and the theory of the legal science.

In other words I do not intend to assess, let alone dispute, any Af­ghan or international political deci­sion, which necessarily fall outside the scope of our conversation.

Back to your question, the establish­ment of the rule of law is progress­ing very slowly and suffering some crucial, but predictable blocks. Let me recall the sentence by Francis Bacon that Cesare Beccaria quoted on the frontespiece of his inimi­table masterpiece On Crimes and Punishments. It was in 1764, and he wanted to make clear to his readers that his revolutionary ideas (on the abolishment of the death penalty and torture, among others) were to be interpreted with caution, as fol­lows: In rebus quibuscumque difficili­oribus non expectandum, ut qui simul, et serat, et metat, sed praeparatione opus est, ut per gradus maturescant - in intricate matters, one should not expect to sow and harvest at once; but must prepare and wait so that things mature by degrees.

In other words, I believe that cer­tain demands from international actors of prompt results, even if jus­tified by understandable pressures from their domestic public opin­ion, should take into account that Afghanistan lives a radically dif­ferent reality from ours, in terms of time and space. We struggle to un­derstand each other even when it comes to basic principles. Reasons for that are to be investigated in the country history, in decades of war, in its fragmented territorial and social texture, in its cul­tural mind-set, in the inadequate preparation of public officials and judges. All of these factors together have prevented the country from developing an "institutional" mind­set, which is preliminary to any po­litical development.

More generally I think that there is quite a sharp divide between the Western and Afghan pace and timing for progress: international intervention, due to Western home affairs, public opinions and budg­etary constraints is expected to be over long before than it would need to last in order to achieve and consolidate progress. That should be a long-term commitment.