But the transfer of judicial operations has proven even more challenging. Top Afghan and American officials agreed in a public memorandum last year that Afghans should expect to assume responsibility for Parwan’s courts as well as its security in January 2012, with the caveat that the timeline was subject to “demonstrated capacity.” In retrospect, U.S. officials said, that transition date was also too ambitious.
News that the country’s largest prison will remain in American hands until at least 2014 has been bitterly received by some.
“This is our country. We have our own laws. The process at Parwan should be an Afghan process,” said Fareed Ahmad Najeebi, the Justice Ministry’s spokesman. “We might have some technical problems with our penal code, but we’re ready to take over judicial and detention operations.”
The Afghan-run court at Parwan is growing, albeit slowly, and is now hearing about 50 cases a month. Despite its flaws, it marks a significant improvement over the rest of the country’s courts. About 150 of Afghanistan’s 398 districts lack judges, and threats and bribes lead to the manipulation of verdicts in many courts.