Since their shock return to power in Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, the Taliban have scrambled to seek legitimacy and recognition of their government from the international community, while at the same time adhere to the strict Islamic principles that they have espoused throughout their insurgency.
It is a balancing act that is playing out in towns and villages across Afghanistan as the tensions between fighting an insurgency and running a country play out in the lives of everyday Afghans. One area of civil society where these tensions manifest on a daily basis is in Afghanistan’s newly established Sharia courts.
After years of rule marked by entrenched corruption, part of the Taliban’s success against the previous Western-backed government was their claim of incorruptibility, especially in their jurisprudence. For years, the movement operated a shadow system of courts in the areas under their control, widely seen as more just than the government judicial system. Those courts are now operating in the open.
Swift Justice focuses on the life-and-death dramas that play out every day in rural Afghanistan by documenting these courts, the judges, and the stories of the people who come seeking justice under the iron-fisted rule of the Taliban.