Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Feb 22, 2018: Integrity Watch Afghanistan and Transparency Afghanistan said in a press conference that the decline of Afghanistan in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranking indicates that the government has been unable to make progress noticeable in the fight against corruption. According to the Index, Afghanistan scored only 15 which makes it the fourth most corrupt country out of 180 countries on the list. Somalia with 9, South Sudan 12 and Syria 14 sank to the bottom of the list, ranked as first, second and third most corrupt countries respectively. New Zealand and Denmark top the list with 89 and 88 respectively.
Speaking to the media, Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch said: “The government’s fight against corruption has been politicized and is not independent. The indifference to the recommendations of civil society has resulted in the weakness of the fight against corruption.” In December 2014, the Afghan government committed to establishing an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission in London Conference on Afghanistan to independently fight against corruption. The commission has not been established. But instead, President Ghani announced the establishment of High Council on Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption presided by himself and established the Anti-Corruption Justice Center around the Warsaw and Brussels conferences on Afghanistan. In November 2016, Integrity Watch Afghanistan warned the government that “such institutions are not independent and lack accountability. In addition, they are not immune from political interference.”
In 2015, Afghanistan was the fourth corrupt country with the score of 11, but in 2016 its score improved to 15 with the rank of the 8th most corrupt country on the Index. In 2017, Afghanistan’s score remains the same as the previous year but its ranking has dropped because many other countries have been able to improve their ranking. Mr. Afzali added: “Because the government was unable to institutionalize the fight against corruption commitments have never been fulfilled.” On the other hand, institutions such as Oversight Commission on Access to Information and Anti-Corruption Justice Center that were established by the National Unity Government did not receive the necessary financial and technical support. This clearly indicates lack of political will to empower anti-corruption institutions to ensure their independence.
In the meantime, the government unveiled its anti-corruption strategy in mid-2017. While the strategy commits to significant undertakings, it lacks a strong implementation mechanism. In September 2016, Integrity Watch commented on the new strategy and stated that “establishing an impartial and apolitical implementation mechanism is the most important part of the strategy which the NUG has overlooked.” Integrity Watch believes that the NUG has wasted so many opportunities to fight against corruption, but it is possible to institutionalize and strengthen the fight against corruption by establishing independent agencies and supporting the existing once.
- The National Unity Government should consider corruption as a national security threat and prioritize the fight against corruption.
- To institutionalize the fight against corruption with considerable independence, Afghanistan should establish an Independent Anti-Corruption Commission based on Jakarta principles. The commission should provide oversight to anti-corruption efforts and strategic leadership, prevent corruption, oversee the investigation of corruption cases at the Anti-Corruption Justice Center and coordinate overall anti-corruption efforts of the government.
- The Afghan government needs to take immediate actions to ensure the independence of Attorney General Office and the Judiciary by ending interference in the affairs of judicial institutions and establishing mechanisms like Judicial Services Commission to institutionalize reform of the judiciary. The full independence of the justice sector institutions should be ensured if the Constitutions is amended.
- To institutionalize the fight against corruption, Afghanistan needs to immediately put in place a number of laws such as Anti-Corruption and Anti-Bribery Law, Whistle Blowers’ Protection Law, and Social Audit Law.
- the government should also prioritize the amendment of the Law on Access to Information based on international standards and establish an Independence Oversight Commission on Access to information.
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