Afghan Judge Hashimi Visits Law Center, Discusses Legal System in Afghanistan

Abdul Saboor Hashimi has been present for some very pivotal moments in Afghanistan’s recent history. He remembers Russia invading his country when he was two years old, and soldiers claiming the purpose was to save them from an American invasion. He remembers his mother disciplining him by saying, “be quiet or the Russians will get you.”

Now, Hashimi, a trial judge from the Balkh Province of Afghanistan, is at the forefront of another sea change – namely that of the Afghanistan legal system from Taliban rule to a system comprised of a Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and Primary Courts.

It is a heavy undertaking and an evolving process, as Hashimi recently acknowledged to a room of LSU Law Center students and faculty members, but the payoff will be an important one for his country.

In 2007, Hashimi was selected by the Chief Justice of Afghanistan to participate in an international judicial fellowship at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. With the fellowship ending this month, he returns to Afghanistan after researching the operations and management of state and federal courts in civil and criminal proceedings. He also returns to see his new son, who, at nearly three months old, he has yet to meet.

One of the main focuses of Hashimi’s work has been the drafting of a code of criminal procedure, which he hopes will help the judiciary standardize the management of criminal cases throughout the Afghani judicial system. He would also like to see a system of commerce that is able to balance the country’s tradition of Islamic law with the worldwide banking system.

As it stands now, the two have differing fundamental principles, leading to possible missed opportunities for a rebuilding country.

“There is no assurance for outside investors because there is no regulation on settling disputes or interest rates,” Hashimi said. “It is illegal to charge interest (under Islamic law) … it is worse than adultery or murder. We still have a lot of local justice … people going to their local leader to settle disputes. But now, the one who loses, if he does not like the leader’s decision, then they come to court to settle the dispute. The court does not recognize that decision (by the local leader).

“I am optimistic about the future of the Afghanistan judicial system. I think that it is better now than five years ago.”