The Rule of Law in Afghanistan represents the voices of more than 6,500 people in Afghanistan and their experiences with the rule of law in their country.


The Rule of Law in Afghanistan: Key Findings from the 2016 Extended General Population Poll & Justice Sector Survey presents select findings from two nationally representative World Justice Project surveys conducted in Afghanistan in July and August 2016.

The General Population Poll was conducted through face-to-face interviews in 3,550 urban and rural households distributed proportionally across the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. This poll was designed for the WJP Rule of Law Index® to measure the rule of law from the perspective of ordinary citizens, including their experiences and perceptions related to government accountability, bribery and corruption, crime, and access to justice.

In order to explore justice issues in greater depth, the WJP also conducted a separate Justice Sector Survey of 3,087 households using the same methodology. This survey captures on Afghans’ views and experiences related to dispute resolution, legal awareness, legal identity, household dynamics, and gender issues.

Whereas the WJP’s flagship Rule of Law Index® offers aggregate rule of law scores, this report presents disaggregated question-level data as 12 thematic briefs to highlight different facets of the rule of law as it is experienced by the population in Afghanistan. These briefs touch upon issues of accountability, corruption, fundamental rights, access to information, crime, justice—criminal, civil, and informal—as well as the role of women in Afghan society.

This report also includes a summary of the most salient findings from 50 in-depth interviews, designed to complement the quantitative findings of the Justice Sector Survey by gathering qualitative data about Afghans’ experiences and perceptions of justice in their community, the dispute resolution process, and how it affects their personal life.

Key Findings

  • Perceptions of Government Accountability: There is a high perception of impunity in Afghanistan, though perceptions of government accountability vary across regions. Compared to peer countries in South Asia, perceptions of accountability in Afghanistan are better than in Pakistan and India, but worse than in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
  • Corruption Across Institutions: Afghans believe that a significant number of authorities are involved in corrupt practices. Judges and magistrates are viewed the most corrupt authorities by respondents.
  • Bribery Victimization: Petty bribery is pervasive in Afghanistan. More than half of Afghans have paid a bribe to process a government permit and to receive assistance from the police. Petty bribery varies greatly by region and by service.
  • Fundamental Freedoms: There has been a moderate decline in Afghans’ perceptions of political and media freedoms in the country since 2013. Despite these declines, Afghans’ views of their freedoms are average compared to perceptions in other South Asian countries.
  • Information Requests: Few Afghans are requesting information held by government agencies. Less than one fifth of respondents reported requesting information in the last twelve months, and of those who did, just over half received the information they requested.
  • Crime Victimization: Households in Afghanistan experience high rates of armed robbery, burglary, and murder. However, there are large differences in victimization rates across the six regions of Afghanistan. There have also been slight declines in reported rates of all three crimes since 2013.
  • Criminal Justice: Corruption is deemed to be a serious and growing problem for the criminal justice system in Afghanistan. Corruption was cited as the number one problem facing both investigative services and criminal courts in Afghanistan. In terms of overall accountability in the criminal justice system, perceptions of the police and courts are mixed.
  • Legal Awareness: Afghans have a moderate amount of legal knowledge. The greatest percentage of respondents correctly answered questions related to women’s legal rights. The smallest percentage of respondents identified the correct answer for questions related to due process and rights of the accused. Women have slightly higher levels of legal awareness as compared to men, and higher levels of educational attainment also correlated with better legal knowledge.
  • Dispute Resolution: Nearly two thirds of Afghans experienced a dispute in the last 12 months, with family disputes, water disputes, land disputes, assault, and neighbor disputes being the five most common dispute types. Among Afghans that reported experiencing a dispute, less than half took any action to resolve their dispute. Of those that did take action, most chose to take their dispute to an informal mechanism for resolution.
  • Women in Afghan Society: There are minor differences in men and women’s views regarding the rights of women when it comes to inheritance and divorce, but the perception gap grows for questions related to women’s role in the community and household dynamics.
  • Trust in Afghanistan: Afghans have a high degree of trust in fellow citizens. Across institutions, Afghans have the most trust in the police and the least trust in the courts. Since 2013, there has been a moderate decline in respondents’ reported level of trust in the police, local government officers, national government officers, and in the courts.
  • Rule of Law & Governance Priorities: Afghans consider corruption to be the most important issue facing the country, followed by job creation and crime reduction.



Survey Instruments