Afghanistan Democracy and Rights

Democracy and rights

Abbreviated as AFG by Abbreviationfinder, Afghanistan experienced its first democratic shift in power in 2014 when Ashraf Ghani was named president. But the government in Kabul, like the entire state administration, is in practice weakly rooted in the provinces where local leaders largely govern. Afghanistan is one of the world’s most corrupt countries and the laws are outdated.

The central government in Kabul has never had complete control over the entire country. Although the national sense is relatively strongly developed, most residents find it easier to identify with the village, clan, province, language group or religious group than with the state. Governments’ power has been dependent on their ability to cooperate with local leaders.

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Political parties exist and free party formation prevails. However, they have a weak foundation in the Afghan tradition and they must not run in elections. While the opposition in Parliament is largely handled by the government, a number of armed resistance groups constitute the real threat to the regime (see Political system).

Elections are surrounded by violence and accusations of electoral fraud. It can be directly fatal to be an election worker, candidate or voter. It is common for Election Day to be postponed time and time again due to the poor security situation in the country.

Afghan women’s representation in politics has increased, but their influence is still small. In Parliament’s lower house, at least a quarter of the 249 members must be women. In the upper house, at least every sixth member must be a woman. In the provincial councils, every fourth place is reserved for women. Taliban and other conservative groups expose women politicians to threats and violence. The fact that Afghanistan is a gender-segregated society further complicates women in politics.

There are plenty of organizations in the country that work with everything from aid and humanitarian aid to health care and human rights. The organizations can generally act free from government interference, but often encounter problems in areas controlled by the Taliban, which often see the organizations as branches of the foreign presence in the country.

Afghanistan is described as one of the world’s most corrupt countries. According to Transparency International, the country is a typical example of how corruption is a direct result of the failure of state and municipal institutions. In 2019, the organization placed Afghanistan in 173 of 180 countries in its index of corruption in the world (see the full list here). Corruption has fueled the billions pumped into the country by the United States and other countries. Large sums have been wasted on failed projects. Unknown sums, probably very large, have disappeared.

Freedom of expression and media

The high level of violence in Afghan society also affects journalists, not least local reporters. Dozens of journalists have been murdered, several have been assaulted and injured and a number of foreign correspondents have been kidnapped in recent years.

Behind the abuses are mainly Taliban, Islamic State (IS) and other resistance groups, but corrupt police, military and civil servants as well as criminal leagues can be perpetrators.

The widespread violence is a major challenge for freedom of the press, opinion and information in the country. Although the Constitution and legislation offer fairly good protection for journalists, in practice the state has a hard time ensuring that journalists and human rights defenders do not become targets in the ongoing conflict. This has led to self-censorship being quite common among journalists and editors.

Nevertheless, the acceptance of independent journalistic work has increased in recent years. Reporters Without Borders ranked Afghanistan ranked 122nd out of 180 in its index of freedom of the press in the world countries (see full list here). This was a clear improvement compared to 2012 when the country ended up in 150th place. It is also better than neighboring India and Pakistan which were ranked 142 and 145 respectively.

After the Taliban’s takeover of power in 1996, newspaper publishing almost stopped. The radio broadcasts were limited to a few hours a day. Television broadcasts were stopped and the possession of television and video equipment and satellite dishes were banned. The Taliban also banned music, dance and film, and depictions of people and animals.

In February 2002, a few months after the fall of the Taliban regime in the fall of 2001, freedom of press and expression was reintroduced in accordance with the 1964 democratic constitution. Since then, hundreds of newspapers and magazines have been registered with the Ministry of Information and Culture. The debate climate is freer in the press than in the etheric media. It is forbidden to publish material that is deemed contrary to the laws of Islam.

The radio is now estimated to reach almost the entire population. However, TV is growing in importance for Afghans at the expense of the radio. Almost two out of three households own a TV set.

More than one in four households have internet access. Social media is mainly used by young people and the political elite.

Judicial system and legal security

The Afghan judiciary weakened during the communist regime in 1978-1991 and collapsed completely during the Taliban violence in 1996-2001. Reconstruction work is in progress, but the laws are often outdated and inconsistent and the court order is often whimsical. Corruption is widespread and public confidence in the courts is very limited.

Political control of the courts has contributed to the decline of the judiciary. In practice, the Supreme Court, which is the highest court, is ruled by the presidential palace. Its nine members are appointed by the President with the approval of the People’s Chamber. Their term of office is ten years. There are also provincial and appellate courts. There is a large shortage of educated lawyers and at local level Islamic tradition often has greater influence than the modern justice system. The boundary between when secular and religious law should be applied is unclear. In the south-eastern parts of the country, legal thinking is dominated by pashtunwali, a traditional rule of law where the concept of honor has a central role.

The low standards of the police force and the courts render poor legal certainty. The armed conflict in various parts of the country contributes greatly to violating respect for human rights and committing human rights violations by all parties. Soldiers, both foreign and Afghan, can brusquely attack civilians on the pretext of chasing terrorists, and they rarely run the counter. Torture and illegal detention occur.

In particular, women and children are exposed to abuse, violence and discrimination. The perpetrators are rarely punished. Authorities often fail to protect women from rape and murder. It is not uncommon for women who leave their husbands to escape abuse or forced marriage to be charged with adultery, which can result in imprisonment. Child labor and human trafficking often occur in rural areas.

Afghanistan Crime Rate & Statistics



Terrorist attack on children

Seventy-nine people are killed in blast attacks in the city of Pul-i-Khumri in the north. The attack is likely to target a group of MPs, but most of the victims are children. It is unclear who is behind the bombing.


The old king dies

Exkung Zahir dies at the age of 92.


War criminals are protected

Parliament adopts a law that the state should not prosecute war crimes committed in recent decades; Critics believe that the law is founded by warlords just trying to protect themselves.