Sensational Trials to Distract Disenfranchised Voters

An election deadlock at the top of the country, may not have halted all other political processes in the country, but it certainly is continuing to distort them in some disturbing ways.  The biggest piece of news out of Afghanistan in the past weeks other than the election was the horrific group rape that occurred just outside of Kabul on Aug 23.

Seven suspects were tried in a matter of days and sentenced to death on Sept 6.  Two have since been acquitted on appeal, but the rush to judgment appears to have been so fast that Human Rights Watch has since released a statement condemning the lack of due process due to political interference:

“The police and court have responded to a horrific crime with a botched trial that makes a mockery of justice for both victims and defendants,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director. “This case sadly demonstrates that the Afghan justice system, despite more than a decade of promised reform, still has a long way to go before genuine justice is handed down.” (see the entire article here).

While it would be nice to think that this has something to do with the government’s desire to protect women, in reality this is primarily a political distraction.  Particularly in Afghanistan, a country where the corrupt and understaffed courts crawl towards verdicts at the fastest, the sensational case has seized the attention of many who would otherwise be focused on the current political crisis.  Karzai’s call for death sentences for the defendants similarly seems a desperate attempt to demonstrate the strength of a crumbling state.  Here’s an article from Vice News (A Gang Rape in Afghanistan Is Exploited for Political Theater) that explores some of the consequences and potential implications of the case than some of the other pieces written about it.

For those looking for at least a little good news out of Afghanistan to distract them in comparison with all the above, NPR just did a piece of the surprisingly effective Kabul fire department: Not Every Afghan Institution Is Efficient; This One Is

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