Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Opening New ACJC Building Needs to Open the Political Will

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Opening New ACJC Building Needs to Open the Political Will

The Inauguration of a permanent Building for Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) is a good step to fight against corruption; it is hoped that opening a highly professional security and infrastructure of the new ACJC enables the three institutions that make up the ACJC to work in effective close partnership to end the culture of impunity for corrupt officials without threat or interference. The facility allows for the co-location of elements of the Ministry of Interior, the Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary to ensure high-level corruption can be tackled head-on, in a process that is insulated from political interference or bureaucracy, from end-to-end. It is also supposed to tackle corruption cases in the next few days that involve senior government officials.  

During inaugural ceremony the International authorities welcomed the establishment of a new permanent facility for the Anti-Corruption Justice Center funded by UK. They expect new location would provide a secure and functional environment for the investigators, trial attorneys, and judges of the Anti-Corruption Justice Center to help them carry out their vital mandate to investigate and prosecute major corruption cases in Afghanistan. The commander of the Combined Security Transition Command (CSTC-A), Robert Kaiser said that corruption inflicts millions of dollars in financial loses to the Afghan government, and called on officials to take firm steps to stop the scourge. “Corruption is the enemy of Afghanistan and it kills from the inside out, corruption is why police walk away from their checkpoints” said Robert Kaiser.

The British ambassador to Kabul Dominic Jermey said that the Afghan government should do more to end the trend and to fight corruption effectively. Ambassador Llorens remarked, “Corruption is a cancer that plagues this nation and must be dealt with. The Anti-Corruption Justice Center has the potential to play a vital role in deterring corruption by attacking impunity. Sustained political commitment in the fight against corruption will be essential for success in this great struggle. Jermey said: “Today is a landmark moment – the inauguration of the UK-funded permanent facility for the ACJC; an institution that is really demonstrating that no longer will high-level corruption in Afghanistan be tolerated. “By eliminating corruption, the Afghan government must ensure that the Afghan people benefit from international aid” he added.

The Inaugural ceremony was almost simultaneous to international anti-corruption watchdog group’s report declared that Afghanistan is no longer among the world’s three most corrupt nations. The Transparency International (TI) said Afghanistan previously described as the third most corrupt country in the world has now jumped to 8th position in its 22nd annual Corruption Perceptions Index of 2016. However, the TI has its own benchmarks for developing the global corruption index of countries, based on which corruption might have dropped but referring to Afghan people, they have not observed practical change in the trend in their daily life. Corruption remains a common practice in government institutions, and no senior officials have been tried on corruption charges since the inception of the National Unity Government (NUG), nor has any mega corruption case disclosed during its rule been adjudicated. 

On the other hand, the report is in paradox to the latest report by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), that an estimate of $3b bribes paid in 2016 – an almost 50% increase compared to the year before. From ministers to presidential advisers, many officials accused of corruption still enjoy impunity from prosecution, and not only have they not been brought to justice, but they also hold senior positions of power. Most of the anti-corruption endeavours of the National Unity Government have been symbolic. Afghan people are dissatisfied with the work of government institutions fighting corruption, including the president-led National Procurement Commission (NPC).

Therefore, the NUG not only has failed to fight, but disagreements between its leaders and lack of political will have also allowed it to grow. Despite the fact that the government established the National Procurement Committee (NPC) and the specialized Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) as part of its deceitful anti-corruption drive, the outcomes are against the claims. The government claimed that the ACJC was designed to try senior government officials, whereas it was also used as a tool to deceive people has no tangible achievement like the NPC. They should realize that they cannot deceive the people for ever; Instead of playing with public perception, the government leaders have to combat corruption faithfully.

Afghan people expect that the activities of anti-corruption programs have to be more systematic and determined based on priority, mega corruption cases should be investigated first, and government officials who pocketed millions of dollars be brought to justice. Psychologically, investigating one major graft case is more useful than tens of small cases, and similarly the dismissal of a corrupt minister is more effective than that of ten low-ranking corrupt public employees, because that, for example, ensures transparency in the entire ministry. For these reason, it seems that corruption has not been appropriately tackled in Afghanistan, and so any report suggesting a decline in corruption level also cannot be acceptable.

Bearing in mind that corruption which is a cancer in Afghanistan; the Successful fight is not possible without a systematic, political approach. NUG must appoint honest leadership in key institutions; make the judiciary independent; promote the law of access to information; establish an independent anti-corruption agency; make asset declaration mandatory for all those who hold power; pay sufficient and justly salary to government personnel, establish transparent mechanism for procurements, provide quality services to citizens and more importantly eliminate the culture of impunity from Afghanistan.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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