Dostum’s case, feeble sway of law

Sunday, 25 December 2016 04:16 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 262 times

Rule of law has long been under question in Afghanistan as it is only the poor and the powerless who get prosecuted, whereas the rich and powerful continue to make mockery of laws. One of such incidents is the lawsuit against First Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. 

 

Gen. Dostum has been accused of imprisonment, torture and attempted rape of his political rival and former Jawzjan governor, Ahmad Ishchi. 

Speaking with media following his release, Ishchi divulged the agonizing account of the incident and how he was treated by the first vice president. Forensic tests proved his torture and even rape.

Ishchi’s claims drew strong reactions, and international pressure increased on Afghan government to probe the case. As a result, the government promised to launch transparent investigations, with President Ghani expressly reiterating several times that no one is above the law, including him. As part of the probe, the Afghan Attorney General Office (AGO) issued a summons for Gen. Dostum to appear for investigations, but his office rejected the letter, arguing the summoning of the first vice president was beyond AGO’s jurisdiction based on Article 69 of the Constitution, which states the Attorney General Office is not authorized to investigate the president and his vice presidents. 

Irrespective of the legal vacuum in this regard, we can say that crime is crime whether committed by the president or an ordinary citizen. There is a need for public order and every member of the society, from the president to an ordinary individual, should be dealt with as per the laws. If law is enforced only on the poor and powerless, it is impossible to serve justice in a society. 

Dostum’s abuse case is a crucial challenge for the rule of law and the National Unity Government, which would mean hammering the final nail in the coffin of rule of law in the country if the government again fails, as usually, to deliver. That will further embolden the strongmen, and spell a major trouble for the government, which will be hard for it to address even until the end of its term. The government especially the president needs to break the praxis of capitulation against the powerful and save face from the huge historic shame through the fair adjudication of Dostum’s case.