KABUL - The Wolesi Jirga (WJ) on Wednesday took strong exception to the Attorney-General Office’s decision on putting five its members on the Exit Control List (ECL) for their alleged involvement in corruption and misuse of their positions.
MPs Haji Zahir Qadeer, Samiullah Samim, Mohammad Arif Rahmani, Mohammad Azim Mohseni and Mahmood Khan Sulaimankhel were placed on ECL weeks after Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal accused them of smuggling and making illegal demands on the government.
On Tuesday, AGO spokesman Basir Aziz told a press conference in Kabul that the action against the parliamentarians had been taken after they disregarded orders to appear before prosecutors to clear their names.
The deadline for the six legislators whom Zakhelwal had blamed for graft expired on Monday. Only one of them -- Lalai Hamidzai -- appeared before prosecutors. He rejected as groundless the allegations and escaped the punitive measure as a result.
Abdul Sattar Khawasi, head of the parliamentary commission probing the charges against the members, presented his report to the lower house. He said the finance ministry and the AGO had thrice been requested through parliamentary affairs ministry to provide documents in support of Zakhilwal charges.
In response to the commission’s third letter, Zakhilwal said the Wolesi Jirga was not a judicial organ and hence its incompetency to investigate the case, according to Khawasi, who said they could not take any decision in the absence of evidence.
“We know the fact that we aren’t authorized to investigate or decide such cases. But under the constitution, the assembly reserves the right to keep an eye on government activities. This particularly case falls within the purview of our supervisory power,” he argued.
Article 103 of the constitution says when a member of the National Assembly is accused of a crime, the law-enforcement authority informs the house about the case and the accused can be prosecuted.
It adds in case of an evident crime, the-law enforcement authority can legally pursue and arrest the accused without the permission of the house...
“In both cases, when legal prosecution requires detention of the accused, law enforcement authorities are obligated to inform the respective house, about the case immediately.”
If the accusation takes place when the assembly is in recess, the permission of arrest is obtained from the administrative board of the respective house and the decision is presented to the first session of the house, according to the constitution.
But Khawasi complained no evidence had been shared with the house panel so far and the alleged crimes were thus unproven. If the ministers has evidence and does not provide it to the commission, he himself is complicit, according to the lawmaker.
He rejected the allegations against the lawmakers as unfounded, insisting no government organ had the authority to put them on the ECL or suspend them in the absence of the assembly’s decision on the topic.
He rejected the allegations against the lawmakers as unfounded, insisting no government organ had the authority to put them on the ECL in the absence of the assembly’s decision on the topic.
Chairing the session, 1st Deputy Speaker Mirwais Yasini observed the commission’s investigations suggested that Zakhilwal did not have sufficient evidence in support of his claims.
“In the absence of documents, we can’t refer house members to the AGO,” remarked Yasini, who said no government organ could place travel restrictions on MPs in such a situation.
Supporting the deputy speaker’s remarks, the legislators unanimously endorsed the commission’s report. (Pajhwok)