(MENAFN - Daily Outlook Afghanistan) Democraticprinciples and human rights have been a dominant discourse in Afghanistan.Afghan Constitution has been approved following the Bonn Conference based ondemocracy and international values. One's rights to life and liberty and theprinciple of nondiscrimination have been highly salient in the constitution.
Afghanistan'spost-Taliban Constitution officially recognized the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights (UDHR) and the United Nations Charter, which point out humanrights issues from a secular perspective.
To view the rights,freedoms, and dignity of mankind from the perspective of Afghan Constitutionand UDHR, both men and women have equal rights and freedoms and racial, sexual,and religious discrimination has room in neither of them.
Afghan Constitutionstates in Article 22, 'Any kind of discrimination and distinction betweencitizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, manand woman, have equal rights and duties before the law. Moreover, it is saidin Article 24 that 'liberty and human dignity are inviolable. The state shallrespect and protect liberty as well as human dignity.
Meanwhile, the UDHRstates in Article 2, 'Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms setforth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race,colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or socialorigin, property, birth or other status.
Being supported bynational and international principles and institutions, Afghan women have madegreat strides as they are holding high political positions. The level of sexualdiscrimination also decreased to a great extent. As a result of activeparticipation of women rights organizations in spreading awareness and women'sempowerment, the social perspective towards women has changed to some level.
Since changing thedeeply embedded traditional culture across Afghanistan is not possibleovernight, challenges and obstacles still continue. Before pointing out thechallenges, it should be noted that notwithstanding its recognition of UDHR andUnited Nations Charter, Afghan Constitution is contrary to some secularprinciples of the international instruments. For instance, Article 18 of UDHR whichsays that 'everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience andreligion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, andfreedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or privatewill not be supported by Afghan Constitution as it articulates in Article 3,'No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion ofIslam in Afghanistan. There are also some other items, including unlimitedrights to marriage, in the UDHR which are in conflict with Afghan Constitution.
In terms of lack oflaw enforcement, there are two main obstacles. First, administrative corruptionwithin the government's body, including judicial system, has hampered lawenforcement in Afghanistan. Afghan Constitution was violated mostly byofficials and strongmen, who consider themselves beyond law. For example, delayin presidential and parliamentary elections, electoral rigging, violating lawwith impunity – to name but a few – are contrary to constitution. Afghanistan'sposition on the top list of corrupt countries for many years suggests thatofficials are widely involved in corruption.
Meanwhile, theunmitigated insurgency across Afghanistan has been the second obstacle beforelaw enforcement. Warring parties have not only been involved in gross violationof law and public rights, but also challenged the smooth implementation of law,especially in remote areas and tribal belts. Implementing their sharia – interpretedon parochial mindset – and tribal code of conduct, the Taliban fighters havebeen conducting desert courts in remote areas and punished men and womenphysically in public. Hence, their harsh practices and gross violation of lawinflicted strong blow to democracy and human rights issues.
Racial and factionaldiscrimination still continues in Afghanistan as high-ranking officials alwaysseek to appoint individuals, who share the same racial and factionalbackgrounds, to high political positions. Such an orientation is highly feltwithin the government's machinery. That is, preferring their individualinterests to national interests, a number of officials violate law withimpunity.
Considering theaforementioned facts, democratic and human rights discourse have been debatedhotly and all layers of Afghan society have been affected in some ways.However, obstacles still hamper the smooth implementation of national laws,mainly the constitution. The rights and freedoms of Afghan men and women arebeing violated in one way or another. There are still individual and collectiveactivities going on to undermine democratic values and the implementation oflaw.
To institutionalizedemocracy in Afghan society, officials have to observe national laws andimplement them equally on individuals. Racial, sexual and religiousdiscrimination should be ended. Civil society and the media should observe theimplementation of law and raise their voice against injustice and lawlessness.