The State of Corruption in Afghanistan and the Role of Independent Institutions

Lailuma Nasiri

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Thank you Afzali sahib and the Integrity Watch for having me in the webinar today discussing “The state of Anti-Corruption and the Role of Independent Institutions in Afghanistan”.

Before I commence my remarks, let me congratulate UNAMA and Romana Jan and her team on the recent comprehensive report on the Afghanistan’s fighting corruption. An important document for all actors involved in fight against corruption in Afghanistan including the government, civil society, media and the international community to refer to.  The problems addressed in the report and the recommendations stated are not only significant but needs immense attention and consideration by all. 

Since other respected panel members and Mr. Sapko discussed in detail about the topic, excuse me for any repetition of the same in my remarks.  
Corruption has become one of the biggest and most threatening challenges for Afghanistan. It is unfortunate that with all the efforts in place by all actors, Afghanistan is still at the top of the corruption indexes.  Corruption, like war, has jeopardized peace in Afghanistan.  The corruption mafia, seeing its benefit in war, pose risks to peace efforts.

We recognize that the government is facing many challenges at the same span of time, which is why it has failed to address its priorities but while tackling those challenges is important, so is the fight against corruption. The UNAMA report has highlighted specifically the elections and its results and the COVID19 pandemic as main reasons for government slowing the pace of anti-corruption reforms in 2019 and early 2020.

Overcoming the corruption challenge through cosmetic and short-term measures is neither possible nor acceptable unless solid actions are taken. Mere enforcement of laws, issuance of decrees, and fighting corruption by institutions that lack independence and freedom from political influences is not sufficient to root out corruption from socio-political fabric.
The independency of the institutions fighting corruption is guarantee for the efficiency for fighting against corruption.

Integrity systems supported by good legislation and policy is important, but effective implementation and enforcement of such legislation is a critical step in efforts to prevent and fight corruption. Afghanistan is said to have the best laws in the region but the serious concern is over the implementation of these laws.   
Lack of public trust (access to information, openness standards); accountability and transparency; material resources and specialized staff, and a strong political will and political capital are the components that has made combating corruption a failure in Afghanistan.

The rule of law is a main component in fighting corruption but the current convenience in policies and procedures avert this component. The efforts to combat corruption are not systematic, while corruption is and until there is a balance between the two, the struggle will not be fruitful and the results will not be significant.

Anti-corruption agenda should be grounded in the rule of law culture with impartiality within the system as a norm.
The interconnection between addressing corruption, governance, transparency and the rule of law is clear to all of us. A strong and independent judiciary is the foundation to fair and impartial justice.
Addressing corruption issues within the judiciary and law enforcement structures should be a matter of highest priority for government. Universal right to fair and impartial justice and the administration of justice with integrity becomes crucial in dealing with corruption. If these key institutions are weak, unprofessional or corrupt, then the rights of citizens and impartial justice are illusionary.

Transparent appointments, promotion and disciplinary process, financial and administrative independence, security of tenure, the fair and effective enforcement of court orders, access to judicial rules and decisions, addressing judicial interference and corruption are all high priority in discouraging corrupt behavior which unfortunately are neither considered nor given value by government which is of great concern for civil society.   

A range of institutions have been created to combat corruption throughout the years, the public is provided with support to report corruption, Whistle blowers and witnesses are protected by law, but corruption is still roaring.

The fight against corruption is a multi-dimensional approach and it is evident that the civil society plays a significant role in the process. Experience has shown that there is no single institution that can win the battle against corruption unless by partnering with other institutions or stakeholders.

Just like war has no winner, we have no choice but to overcome the corruption dilemma and just as corruption is not the result of one person’s deed or an institution’s action, fighting corruption isn’t possible but joint efforts by all.

“The State of Corruption in Afghanistan and the Role of Independent Institutions”

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