Restoring Afghanistan’s Informal Justice System

MSI is implementing the USAID-funded Afghanistan Rule of Law Stabilization (RLS) Project as a subcontractor to Checchi and Company.

After years of Taliban suppression of traditional court systems and dispute resolutions, this project is working to re-establish such systems in areas now cleared of Taliban control.

The objective of the RLS project is to develop the capacity of Afghanistan’s justice system to be accessible, reliable and fair. The “informal component” program will support this objective by focusing on both the state and traditional justice systems.

MSI is focusing on the traditional, informal justice system known as shuras or jirgas. In the past, Taliban control would subvert or destroy the indigenous, traditional justice system and shut down the state court system, if present in the area. For this project, once military action has cleared an area of Taliban control, the pilot program will help create the conditions necessary for the traditional system to reemerge and function.

MSI is determining, on a case-by-case basis, the best course of action to establish a culturally-appropriate dispute resolution mechanism in these cleared areas. The team will consult with community leaders and religious elders to help inform and shape the reestablishment of these traditional courts.

MSI has a substantial history working with the rule of law sector in Afghanistan, having subcontracted with Checchi previously from 2004 to 2009 on the Afghanistan Rule of Law Activity (AROLP).

The project worked on rebuilding the nation’s justice sector and strived to create an environment of respect for the rule of law. Utilizing a significant media component, the project creatively increased public awareness on justice issues and drew people together across religious lines to discuss gender issues.

The RLS Project will continue through March 2011.