Dostum’s abuse scandal and the questionable rule of law

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 03:47 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 240 times

Medical tests have proved the former Jawzjan governor, Ahmad Ishchi, was tortured and raped after he was taken into custody by First Vice-President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum a while ago.  The former deputy of Junbish-i-Milli party led by Dostum was then handed over to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on charge of having links with the Taliban. 

 

Speaking with media following his release, Ishchi revealed the gut-wrenching account of how he was treated by the first vice president, alleging that Dostum and his men had tortured and attempted to rape him, and filmed the scene so that he could not dare to speak out against the warlord in the future. 

After Ishchi’s confession, the international community pressed Afghan government to launch an investigation into the accusations. As part of the probe, he was sent to a hospital in Bagram military base for medical examinations. Citing the medical tests undertaken in Bagram, Ishchi’s son said the report has confirmed rape and torture of his father.  

This is not the first time Gen. Dostum and his men are accused of involvement in such incidents; his past life is beset by human rights abuses.  From the activities of Dostum’s militia forces also known as gilimjams (which literally means carpet thieves or plunderers used for Uzbek militiamen during the civil war), to the Dasht-e Laili massacre and the humiliation of his close ally Akbar Bai, the notorious general has been accused of various human rights violations, yet no government has dared to prosecute him. Instead of facing transitional justice, Gen. Dostum was picked by President Ashraf Ghani, who had once called for his arrest, as his first running mate. Afghans stopped expecting anything from Ashraf Ghani exactly at the time when he chose Dostum as vice president.   

The investigation of Ishchi’s case and enforcement of law on Gen. Dostum if allegations levelled against him are substantiated is a litmus test for the National Unity Government (NUG), defining the fate of rule of law in the country.  The failure of the government particularly of the legal and judicial institutions to enquire into the incident impartially will deal an irreparable blow to the rule of law, increasing anarchy and eroding the public’s remaining trust in the government. The NUG has to uphold impartial investigation and its findings with one voice and irrespective of political affiliations.