Integrity Watch: Oversight and justice institutions should remain independent of any political deal

11 May, 2020, Kabul, Afghanistan—Integrity Watch expressed its concerns over the recent talks between the government and different political groups to reach a deal including the distribution of the justice, regulatory, and oversight institutions as part of a potential power-sharing agreement. The civil society warned against any attempt to further politicize these institutions which are supposed to be independent of political interference to ensure rule of law and accountability of other state institutions.

Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch, stated, “Afghanistan has long been suffering from corruption mainly because of politicization of key state institutions.” He added that despite huge investments by the international community, the state-building effort has largely failed due to the lack of accountability and weak rule of law as a result of the capture of the justice, regulatory, and oversight institutions by political interests. “Afghanistan can no longer afford to suffer from institutional failure and a culture of impunity,” Mr. Afzali emphasized.

Various proposals reported by the local media refer to the distribution of senior positions in the Supreme Court High Council and the Attorney General’s Office between the political groups trying to form some sort of a unity government following the election turmoil. For many years both national and international civil society organizations expressed concerns over the corruption in the justice sector and the misuse of power by those politicians in control. The public trust in rule of law institutions has been at a very low level for many years and any further politicization of these rule of law institutions is a recipe for the continued mistrust of the public and the failure of state institutions to ensure rule of law and accountability.

Mohammad Naser Timory, Head of Advocacy & Communications, stated, “The independent agencies that are expected to ensure the prevention of corruption, to provide access to information, to enforce the rule of law, to deter human rights abuses and guarantee the integrity of the government face the danger of continued politicization” The Supreme Audit Office, the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority, the Central Bank, Da Breshna Sherkat, the Afghanistan Independent Commission Overseeing the Implementation of the Constitution, the Access to Information Commission, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the Independent Reform and Civil Services Commission and similar agencies and also smaller units like the Mining Technical Committee are only effective when their leadership is recruited through a competitive, independent and open process and not politically appointed as part of a political settlement. He added, these institutions were kept weak, under resourced, and were not genuinely and continuously supported by political leadership over the years.

Integrity Watch calls on the Afghan government and political groups to put transparency, accountability and integrity at the heart of governance and reform and prioritize the independence of the judiciary and   abstain from the politicization of the justice institutions and the independent agencies. We urge the Afghan civil society fraternity, all MPs with integrity in the National Assembly and the people to raise their voices and stand firm to protect the already fragile and weak Afghan judiciary and oversight agencies. The international community should also step up to ensure such institutions are protected during any political settlement.

For more information and media inquiry please contact:
Mohammad Naser Timory, Head of Advocacy & Communications, Integrity Watch