Since 2003 Germany is actively supporting Afghanistan in re-building its legal system. The renowned German Max-Planck-Institute co-operates with Afghan universities and justice institutions to carry out projects to establish an effective judicial and administrative system.
Re-building in Afghanistan
Tilmann Röder, the project manager of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, explains how the co-operation between his institute and the Afghan authorities started:
"The request came from various Afghan colleagues, for example from the High Court. And then Germany's Foreign Office decided to finance the project. So in this sense we are working for the Afghan authorities on one side and for the Government of Germany on the other."
Besides law experts from Germany the team also includes lawyers from France, Italy and the USA: "At the moment we have ten regular staff members. We also have three Afghan colleagues, three Afghan lawyers, who support us."
Even though Afghanistan is considered to be back on the road to democracy there are conflicting positions on the reformation of the judicial system in Afghanistan: on the one hand there is a Western-style legal system, on the other hand there is a traditional judiciary based on Islam. Tilman Röder is well aware of the underlying problems:
"The problem is that the legal system contradicts itself and there is no clarity on which system should be applied. For example the constitution should not violate Islamic law but what if the Islamic law violates the constitution, like when it comes to punishing crimes with torture -- which is against the human rights enshrined in the constitution".
Long way to go
According to Röder, it will take a while until islam-orientated judges will be convinced not to punish crimes -- like theft or adultery -- with chopping off a hand or public flogging and thus clearly ignoring constitutionally guaranteed human rights. To make matters worse, observers see an increasing trend of the Afghan government to support traditional islamic forces and thus obtaining the old legal system.
For the German legal team there seems to be a long road ahead until Afghanistan's legal system will be fully reformed.