Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, December 14th, 2018

Anti-Corruption Strategy Must Target the Powerful

Corruption has been one of the most dominating issues in Afghanistan since the formation of so-called democratic government after the downfall of Taliban. One of the major reasons that there has not been any considerable achievement regarding fight against corruption is the fact that the authoritative institutions and individuals have lacked true commitment; which ultimately provided them the room and the opportunity to benefit from the situation and make their own bank balance. So much has been said and so many instances, examples and data have proved that corruption has devoured much of the assistance funds that were for the purpose of improving the life standards of the poor and deserving people, yet there has not been any tangible measure taken to stop the situation and the result is that Afghanistan is still among the 10-most corrupt countries in the world.

No strategy for fighting corruption in Afghanistan can be successful unless it starts making the strong individuals and institutions accountable for any sort of corruption that they commit. The norm has been that the rich, powerful and influential people easily dodge the justice system, while the poor have to receive the negative consequences. In fact, the poor are influenced in two different ways by corruption. First, if they are alleged in any case of corruption they have to go through inefficient and most unjust process of the justice system. Second, they are the ones who have to pay bribes and search for recommendations in order to get their works done in the departments and organizations that are corrupt in their dealings. While the rich through their influence, get away with their corrupt activities and at the same time get their works done from different organizations without any difficulty.

Therefore, it stands paramount that the rich and influential people, both in public and private sectors, who are involved in practicing corruption and promulgating it through their actions should be brought to justice. It is important in so many ways; first it will support in identifying the huge cases of corruption that involve large sums of money; second, it will set example for others – finding the influential people brought to justice and held accountable for their corrupt deeds would send a message to the people and to other officials that they cannot run away from justice if they practice corruption.      

Such initiative definitely requires support and determination to fight against the whole system; particularly, fighting influential and powerful individuals; nevertheless, there is no other option available. Therefore, it is important that the government and the international community must address this particular issue if something worthwhile is required to be achieved. A positive step in this regard is the establishment of Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center (ACJC) to tackle major corruption cases of government officials in Afghanistan. Funded by the UK government ACJC building was inaugurated on Sunday, January 29, by the commander of the Combined Security Transition Command (CSTC-A) Robert Kaiser, who said on the occasion that corruption inflicts millions of dollars in financial loses to the Afghan government, and it was necessary for the officials to take firm steps to stop the scourge. He also said in his statement, “Corruption is the enemy of Afghanistan and it kills from the inside out, corruption is why police walk away from their checkpoints.”

Meanwhile, the British ambassador to Kabul Dominic Jermey, said in a statement, “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… The UK wholeheartedly congratulates this government for its efforts to really turn the corner on the scourge of corruption that for too long has taken money and services away from the deserving Afghan people. That’s why I’m proud the UK has provided Afghanistan this professional facility, to allow the brave officials of the ACJC to really hold those at the top to account.”

On the other hand, the US embassy welcomed the establishment of the facility for the ACJC in Kabul, hoping investigators would benefit from it. US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Hugo Llorens said that the new location would provide a secure and enabling environment for the investigators, trial attorneys and judges of the Anti-Corruption Justice Center. His statement read, “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”. 

It is now important to see how the matters will be dealt with in this new facility. The most important factor in this regard would be the response and the cooperation of the Afghan government officials. It is imperative that Afghan government must show its resolve against corruption and must not hesitate to separate itself from the corrupt individuals who have been devouring the rights of the poor people and at the same time defaming the nation as a whole.