Corruption Economy & Development tech UNAMA

Afghanistan’ Anti-Corruption Institutions: Too many, and with too few results

A group of artists paint a blast wall outside Kabul

A gaggle of artists paint a blast wall outdoors Kabul’s presidential palace with a huge pair of eyes in vibrant colours in July 2015. Alongside the eyes, a slogan reads: “Corruption cannot be hidden from God or from the individuals”. Credit score: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP

Corruption in the Afghan state has blossomed and bloomed in the years since 2001. A report revealed by UNAMA in the present day on Afghanistan’s battle towards corruption highlights how the frequent modifications in corruption-related legislation and a mushrooming of anti-graft institutions have finished little to cease it; current reductions in petty corruption – as shown by the newest surveys of residents’ perceptions – have been minimal. AAN’s Jelena Bjelica here takes stock of the country’s principal anti-corruption establishments, taking a look at what they do and (typically) don’t do, and whether corruption is helped or hindered by the multiplicity of our bodies.

Corruption eats into the faith of residents of their state. It undermines what providers the state offers – witness low-quality or even ghost faculties, the disabled and households of martyrs seeing their pensions are taken by others and the poor-quality development of roads and infrastructure. It feeds into the nexus between criminality and the state and widens social inequality, between those too poor and powerless to affect the system and people who capable of exploit it. Whether corruption manifests as bribe-taking, selling state jobs, stealing cash or items, paying cash to ghost pensioners, academics and soldiers, making crooked contracts or utilizing state establishments or employees to commit a criminal offense with impunity, the number and ways during which corruption has blossomed within the Afghan state since 2001 are many and assorted. So, too, are the institutions arrange by the state supposedly to fight this corruption. But, nothing a lot ever seems to vary.

On this dispatch, the writer seems at UNAMA’s general conclusions in its new report on preventing corruption, earlier than giving a quick history of anti-corruption efforts within the years since 2001. Then, in a bid to clarify the bewildering variety of anti-corruption bodies, she details the ten most essential ones, taking a look at how and why they have been arrange and why they are (largely) failing or (very sometimes) doing properly.

What does UNAMA’s report say about corruption in Afghanistan?

The new UNAMA report, “Afghanistan’s Struggle towards Corruption: Groundwork for Peace and Prosperity” stated that “some progress” towards corruption has been made. In Transparency International’s international corruption notion index, Afghanistan moved up from 177th (in 2017) to 172nd place (in 2018), out of 180 locations. Mainly, this was a result of a slight lower in corruption in Afghanistan. In accordance with a leading Afghan watch-dog organisation, Integrity Watch Afghanistan, this was reportedly as a result of residents paying fewer bribes. (1)

This decrease in corruption was adopted by a boost in anti-corruption legislation. In response to the UNAMA report, in 2018 and early 2019, legislative modifications associated to corruption, such as the Anti-Corruption Regulation, the Whistle Blower Safety Regulation and the Lawyer Common’s Regulation “targeted on clarifying the institutional framework of anti-corruption bodies to raised align to the United Nations Conference towards Corruption (UNCAC).” (2) In response to the UNAMA, the Anti-Corruption Regulation, which entered into drive on 5 September 2018 and which foresees the establishment of an unbiased Anti-Corruption Commission, exhibits that “the reform efforts have come a great distance in the direction of establishing a strong anti-corruption framework and dedicated establishments to implement it.”

The new anti-corruption regulation was submitted to the Wolesi Jirga on 11 October 2018, about 20 days earlier than the parliamentary elections (see this AAN thematic file on the aftermath of the 2018 parliamentary elections). As the brand new nationwide assembly was solely inaugurated on 26 April 2019, the regulation has not yet been debated. It was, however, amended by another presidential legislative decree relating to the choice means of the anti-corruption commissioners, on 5 March 2019.

The UNAMA report, nevertheless, warns that recurrent modifications in laws, inconsistent implementation of the 2017 Anti-Corruption Technique and ad hoc interventions to vary a course of reform or frequent modifications in personnel inside key establishments might have had a reverse effect.  

None of this comes as any surprise, as Afghanistan’s post-2001 anti-corruption history is wealthy with examples of simply that – frequent modifications in legislation, modifications in personnel, inconsistently followed plans and the creation of numerous anti-graft institutions, most of which have had a really brief life span, as might be explained within the following part.

Wanting back, how did Afghanistan’s struggle towards corruption start?

In the years after 2001, corruption came to be recognised as one of the key impediments to Afghanistan’s improvement and stability; thus, the struggle towards it eventually gained a excessive place on the post-2001 state-building agenda (for more background see this 2007 UNODC paper). Inside three years, of the autumn of the Taleban, Afghanistan had signed the United Nations Conference towards Corruption (UNCAC) and promulgated a regulation towards corruption and bribery in 2004. That very same yr, the primary anti-corruption company, the Common Unbiased Administration for Anti-Corruption (GIAAC) was established. Based mostly on the decree underneath which it was shaped, GIAAC had wide-ranging duties, including to research all instances of bribery and corruption. Nevertheless, its work was politicised, and, based on studies, misused for political positive aspects by its head, Dr Azzizulah Ludin (see right here and right here). (three) It was, very ultimately, dissolved in 2008 after it misplaced international monetary help, following former President Karzai’s determination to exchange Dr Ludin with Ezatullah Wasifi, who had been convicted of selling and distributing heroin in the USA (see media coverage here).

2006 saw the first anti-corruption benchmarks being agreed when the Afghan government and its worldwide backers signed the Afghanistan Compact. Since then, they’ve been a outstanding function in all key agreements between the Afghan authorities and its worldwide backers. These benchmarks are also used to measure anti-corruption efforts.

By the top of Karzai’s presidency in 2014, 4 key institutions (four) in the Afghan anti-corruption sector had emerged. Some of these institutions, nevertheless, such as the Excessive Office for the Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOO) created by President Karzai in 2008 have been only a new outlet for a similar previous employees at GIAAC.

In the course of the first three years of President’s Ghani tenure, the variety of institutions has blossomed. Based on a 2017 UNAMA report on anti-corruption “18 separate bodies tasked with implementing points of the federal government’s anti-corruption efforts” have been operational in 2017. “The sheer number of present anti-corruption our bodies,” stated the report, “presents a big challenge to coordination efforts.”

Certainly, the closure of HOO, which started in 2014, gave rise to four new establishments: the Unbiased Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Analysis Committee (MEC) and the Excessive Council for Rule of Regulation and Anti-Corruption in 2016; the Administration on Registration and Evaluation of Belongings, situated inside the Office of Administrative Affairs of the President and; the Deputy Lawyer Common for Anti-corruption in 2017.

The increase within the number of institutions also coincided with the approval of a new Afghanistan Nationwide Technique for Combatting Corruption in September 2017. (5) Some establishments, such because the Deputy Lawyer Basic for Anti-Corruption, have been created consistent with the brand new strategy (see the 2018 US Special Inspector Common for Afghanistan Reconstruction, SIGAR, report here and UNAMA’s 2018 report here).

However, these modifications within the institutional landscape resulted in a state of affairs, UNAMA’s 2018 report on anti-corruption found, by which key Afghan anti-corruption establishments have been based mostly on decrees not but accredited by parliament. (6) Decrees and laws, the report stated, “could also be altered any time.”

Furthermore, a high and fluctuating variety of institutions over a period of just about 18 years has accomplished little to scale back corruption all through the nation – and should even have increased it. Whereas everyday abuse of public officers in their interplay with residents did lower in 2018 (see footnote 1) – which can be a blip or the beginning of something extra sustained – misuse of public funds has endured. As a 2018 report on anti-corruption by the Particular Inspector Common for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) put it: “If the Afghan government continues to not take motion towards public officers who violate inner codes of ethics, a climate of corruption inside the Afghan authorities will endure.”

Which are the current anti-corruption institutions and what do they do?

Within the following section, the important thing establishments in Afghanistan on the forefront of the country’s struggle towards ‘a climate of corruption’ are laid out. This part offered an summary of the establishments in accordance with their basic space of labor, ie policy making; prevention and oversight; investigation and prosecution; and institutional auditors. Each institution is described and a short overview of their achievements and shortfalls is mentioned, based mostly on the 2019 UNAMA report and different obtainable stories.


1. The Excessive Council on Governance, Rule of Regulation and Anti-Corruption

A key policy-making and coordination physique, the Excessive Council for Rule of Regulation and Anti-Corruption was established by presidential decree on 17 August 2016. In line with its phrases of reference, the High Council’s objectives are to reform and reinforce the justice system, enhance the legislative framework and struggle corruption. It’s chaired by the president and consists of most senior members of presidency, the judiciary and unbiased institutions. (7) It turned lively in 2017, when, based on the 2018 UNAMA report, it adopted the brand new Anti-Corruption Strategy (on 28 September) and institutional reform plans underneath the general Justice Sector Reform Plan (on 22 June 2017).

The work of the Excessive Council is supported by sub-committees on legislative points, justice and anti-corruption. The legislative and justice committees are chaired by Second Vice-President Muhammad Sarwar Danesh, whereas the anti-corruption committee is chaired by Lawyer Common Farid Hamidi. In keeping with the anti-corruption strategy, a further Particular Secretariat to watch and report on the strategy’s implementation was established in 2018. The Particular Anti-Corruption Secretariat consists of a gaggle of specialists in five key areas: monitoring key ministries/departments; income and expenditure; specific selections of the High Council on the regulation; anti-corruption and; communications and analysis. It receives reviews on the implementation of the technique from ministries and government departments and presents unified studies to the president. The Excessive Council is among the eight improvement councils listed within the Afghanistan Nationwide Peace and Improvement Framework (ANPDF) and can also be chargeable for overseeing two Nationwide Priority Programmes, the National Justice Sector and Judicial Reform Plan (NJSRP), and the Effective Governance Programme.

In line with the 2019 UNAMA report, the High Council was also included in the new Anti-Corruption Regulation, in line with which its foremost objectives are to struggle corruption and set up coordination amongst related entities underneath the chairmanship of the president.

In 2018 and 2019, the Excessive Council adopted a Subnational Governance Coverage and revised the Nationwide Anti-Corruption Technique. Nevertheless, in line with UNAMA’s report, there’s room for enchancment in the High Council’s work. The report stated the federal government ought to contemplate: turning the High Council sub-committees into technical professional working teams; creating a mechanism to advance the implementation of the Nationwide Justice Sector Reform Plan; and codify the participation of civil society and unbiased institutions in Excessive Council meetings.

Prevention and Oversight

2. Unbiased Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Analysis Committee (MEC)

The Unbiased Joint Monitoring and Analysis Committee (MEC) was established by means of a presidential government decree in 2010 as part of the HOO. The institution has had an essential position in monitoring, evaluating and reporting anti-corruption points in Afghanistan. It’s well-known for its ‘vulnerability to corruption’ assessments of Afghan institutions, publicly out there on its web site.

In September 2016, in one other government decree (no 115) on the modification of authorized character duties, functioning and authorities of the Unbiased Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, it was separated from the HOO and tasked with focussing on five separate areas: monitoring and evaluating anti-corruption efforts by the government and the international group; issuing recommendations for introducing reforms; monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of worldwide group help; monitoring the implementation of its recommendations; and reporting on the status of implementation of the Committee’s recommendations and general state of affairs of corruption within the nation to the president, parliament and the worldwide group.

The MEC’s commissioners include six senior anti-corruption specialists selected by the Afghan government and its worldwide backers, with the chairmanship alternating between an Afghan and a world every six months.

The MEC’s legal basis, an government decree, is weak to political change and influence as it may be simply changed at any time. There are not any legal obligations for the subsequent Afghan president to maintain it. Nevertheless, if the MEC’s mandate was codified in a regulation that was handed by parliament, it might be harder and time-consuming to change it.

3. National Procurement Fee

The National Procurement Fee (NPC) is the oversight commission of the Nationwide Procurement Authority (NPA), established in 2015. The NPA, which studies to the NPC, screens and supervises procurement proceedings for efficiency, transparency and compliance with the regulation, and screens the progress of contract implementation in accordance with procurement rules and procedures. Each the NPA and the NPC are chaired by the president.

The NPC is composed of the ministers of Finance, Financial system and Justice and has the authority to assessment and approve contracts which might be past the edge authority of procuring entities and decide the duties and authorities of such entities. In addition to the president, commission conferences are attended by the chief government and second vice-president and in addition civil society, representatives of the parliament and a few worldwide observers. The NPC holds common weekly meetings. For example, in 2018, UNAMA reported it held 45 weekly conferences they usually have been open and clear.

Nevertheless, there have been some modifications in how the procurement authorities work. In November 2018, the president issued an government decree (No. 100), based on which “effective from the start of fiscal yr 2019, the NPA can be chargeable for finishing the procurement process, from the begin to conclusion of contract, for all procurement falling inside the jurisdiction of the NPC [ie above a certain monetary threshold].” Because of this the NPA conducts the whole procurement process and never just facilitates it. This, in accordance with the 2019 UNAMA report, factors to increased centralisation of the procurement process:

[…] this centralization of procurement within a single entity also dangers consolidating corruption, moderately than stopping it. It might additionally end in depriving procurement models in authorities entities from acquiring related expertise and experience on procurement issues.

four. Deputy Lawyer Common for Anti-Corruption

On 4 March 2018, the Lawyer Basic’s Workplace (AGO) Regulation was amended to create a devoted Deputy Lawyer Basic for Anti-Corruption Affairs (DAG-AC). The 2017 Anti-Corruption Strategy directed that each one anti-corruption our bodies, aside from the MEC, must be merged beneath the DAG-AC. The office was, among different duties, assigned preventive features, and features that included “analysing and assessing legal causes and proposing legal policy initiatives to the federal government” and “recommending precautionary measures on crime commission to competent authorities.” All of these transcend the standard scope of a prosecution office. This was mainly executed so as to integrate employees members of the dissolved HOO. Consequently, an enormous workplace was created with 367 skilled, 94 administrative and 102 help employees. Apparently, the DAG-AC was not assigned administrative oversight of the Anti-Corruption and Justice Centre (ACJC) Chief Prosecutor, who continues to report on to the Lawyer Common.

In June 2018, the previous chief prosecutor of the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre, Muhammad Alef Erfani was appointed deputy lawyer basic for anti-corruption but was then moved to the publish of chief appeals prosecutor for Herat province in November 2018. Erfani informed AAN in an interview carried out on 9 October 2018 while he was nonetheless the DAG-AC, that “regardless of the place you’re employed on anti-corruption, you’re all the time on the front line.” Nevertheless, he had little to report on the achievements of the newly established deputy workplace. It seemed then that he was also battling the DAG-AC’s broad mandate.

The 2019 UNAMA report found that not solely was the Deputy Lawyer Basic for Anti-Corruption Affairs’ mandate unclear, so too was the position of his 367-staffed office since, so early on, nevertheless it had also been confronted with “an abrupt change in management.” “These difficulties,” the UNAMA stated in its report, “are more likely to have led to a low output of the DAG-AC over the past yr.”

In its recommendations to the government, UNAMA’s 2019 report stated it was necessary to “clarify the position of the Deputy Lawyer Common for Anti-Corruption.” UNAMA further beneficial that the government, having created the Anti-Corruption Commission, ought to “assess whether or not the [DAG-AC] workplace’s large tashkil continues to be required” and that perhaps, as an alternative, the government should think about strengthening the DAG-AC’s prosecutorial features.

5. Anti-Corruption Commission (to be established)

According to the new Anti-Corruption Regulation, an unbiased Anti-Corruption Commission ought to be established.  Once set up, it should perform as a corruption prevention physique in keeping with Article 6 of the United Nations Convention towards Corruption (UNCAC). The fee is tasked with common corruption prevention measures, improvement and oversight of the Anti-Corruption Strategy accepted by the High Council, as well as research, awareness-raising and coaching. It’s also mandated to obtain info on corruption offences and refer them to the competent authorities and to suggest anti-corruption laws and measures to counter corrupt practices in institutions. The fee may also gather and register asset declarations of presidency employees and high-ranking officials after this perform is transferred to it within twelve months of its establishment.

Photograph by BAY ISMOYO / AFP

The commission’s broad mandate overlaps with these of a number of different establishments and officials, including that of the Deputy Lawyer Common for Anti-Corruption, the Unbiased Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), the Workplace for Asset Registration and Verification, and the Special Secretariat underneath the Excessive Council. In response to the 2019 UNAMA report, “this can be a results of the drafting historical past of the regulation and a somewhat inconsistent strategy to anti-corruption reforms.”

The 2017 National Anti-Corruption Strategy did not present for a devoted corruption prevention physique but dissolved the unsuccessful HOO and moved its features to different establishments. The Authorities countered criticisms concerning the lack of a dedicated unbiased corruption prevention physique by stating that such a physique wouldn’t work in the Afghan context, arguing as an alternative to streamline present anti-corruption bodies. The Anti-Corruption Regulation created the new Commission, however the authorized foundation of different institutions has not been amended to mirror this modification.

It stays to be seen how these conflicting mandates can be resolved as soon as the fee is about up. Certainly one of UNAMA’s key recommendations to the government is to make clear the roles of the Deputy Lawyer Basic for Anti-Corruption and the newly created Anti-Corruption Fee.

Investigation and Prosecution

6. Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (ACJC)

On 30 June 2016, President Ghani established, via an government decree, the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (ACJC) with the aim of investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating major corruption instances. The creation of the ACJC, nevertheless, was a donor-led effort and never genuinely Afghan-driven. An article within the “Journal of Complicated Operations” gives a first-hand account of these efforts. “Initially,” the article stated, “the trouble really included all the worldwide group, with conferences being held at the EU compound, the British Embassy, or considered one of UNAMA’s compounds, but this massive working group turned too fragmented and unwieldy; and the core group agreed that an ambassador was needed to honcho the trouble.” In response to the 2018 SIGAR anti-corruption report, “all the ACJC’s buildings, automobiles, gasoline, and different belongings have been donated by the worldwide group.”

In response to its mandate, the ACJC has jurisdiction over corruption instances involving more than 10 million Afghanis(at present about 125,000 USD); bribery, money laundering, destruction or the promoting of cultural and historical relics, crimes towards inner or exterior safety, illegal extraction of mines, and land usurpation involving greater than 5 million Afghanis (presently about 63,000 USD) and; instances involving high-ranking authorities officers, resembling deputy-ministers, generals, governors, and Provincial Council members regardless of the sum of money involved. In addition, the Excessive Council on Rule of Regulation and Anti-Corruption might refer instances to the ACJC even when they don’t meet the standards mentioned above, although this referral choice has never been used. Instances that do not meet the jurisdictional threshold of the ACJC continue to be investigated and prosecuted earlier than unusual provincial courts.

The UNAMA report found that from its inception to mid-Might 2019, the ACJC courtroom has tried 223 defendants in 57 instances earlier than its trial chamber and 173 defendants in 52 instances earlier than its appellate chamber. Thirty-six of its instances towards 117 accused have been decided after an attraction to the Supreme Courtroom, the report stated. It had additionally issued 127 warrants and summonses, out of which solely 13 warrants and 39 summonses might be executed so far, with solely a single defendant tried consequently. In line with UNAMA, the variety of defendants tried in their absence earlier than the ACJC remained excessive in 2018 and 2019, at 20 per cent. It additionally stated:

A lot of the defendants tried by the ACJC [since its inception] have been staff of the MoI [Ministry of Interior] with sizeable numbers from municipalities, [and] the Ministries of Finance and Protection.

However this ‘output’, UNAMA stated, has been fluctuating. For instance, there was a noticeable decline within the number of instances tried in the second half of 2018; from 1 April 2018 to 31 December 2018, 11 instances have been tried at the Main Courtroom and 15 on the Attraction Courtroom. (eight) This compared with the interval between 1 January 2019 and mid-Might 2019, by which the Main Courtroom heard 13 instances, whereas the Attraction Courtroom heard nine instances. UNAMA also found that in the period between January 2018 and April 2019, “not a single defendant affiliated with the MoD [Ministry of Defence] was tried.” The report stated that though the Lawyer Basic indicated that several MoD officers had been indicted, “the indictments had been returned, by way of judicial rulings, for the prosecutor to cowl gaps within the investigation.” However, whereas no MoD official was tried within the abovementioned interval, the attraction in a single case had been heard shortly before UNAMA revealed its report.

The report additionally notes a rise “in the number of personal businessmen indicted and tried, principally for money laundering or illegal transfer of money.” It concluded:

While the quality of instances being tried by the ACJC usually declined, when it comes to the rank of the accused, there was a marginal improve within the amounts ordered by the courtroom in compensation, restitution and confiscation.

UNAMA’s report also stated that after rising from the difficulties of its inception part, the “ACJC should now have the ability to deliver on persistently prosecuting high-ranking or high-value corruption instances.”

The decline in the variety of instances in 2018 also corresponds with a substantial turn-over in both senior and junior employees within the ACJC prosecution office. In June 2018 following chief prosecutor Mohammad Alef Erfani’s promotion to the position of DAG-AC, a brand new ACJC chief prosecutor, Fazel Sultan Safi, was appointed. “The appointment did not comply with a public call [for applications],” the 2019 UNAMA report stated.

The ACJC can also be mentioned in the new Anti-Corruption Regulation, which, if and when handed by parliament, will convey concerning the long-awaited legislated codification of the ACJC (versus by government decree). The regulation incorporates provisions aimed toward facilitating investigations by ACJC’s prosecutors and strengthening the anti-corruption work of the Major Crimes Process Drive (MCTF) by putting it immediately inside the Minister of Interior.

7. Particular Courtroom of the Supreme Courtroom

The constitution stipulates that the highest-ranking officials reminiscent of ministers who’re accused of crimes are to be tried by a special courtroom. In mid-2018, the Supreme Courtroom, for the primary time in its historical past, constituted a particular panel chaired by Justice Muhammad Zaman Sangari and two other Supreme Courtroom Judges (Barat Ali Matin and Abdul Hasib Ahadi) in accordance with the Particular Courts Regulation, to hear the case of the former minister for Telecommunications and Info Know-how, Abdul Razaq Wahidi.

The former minister was indicted for the misuse of authority beneath Article 285(2) of the 1976 Penal Code, for allegedly benefiting from the recruitment of 37 employees members and from the set up of a real-time telecommunications tax accounting system. The trial was broadcast stay on television, with courtroom appearances on 2 and 21 July 2018. Within the reside broadcast, the former minister tried to shift the blame to the then-Minister of Finance. On 25 December 2018, the Particular Courtroom acquitted the defendant on all expenses for lack of evidence, despite having repeatedly returned the case to the prosecution for further investigation. The 2019 UNAMA report stated:

Regrettably, the Supreme Courtroom has to date not revealed its determination within the case and its authorized evaluation and reasoning subsequently remain unknown.

4 high-profile instances stay pending with the Supreme Courtroom as of Might 2019, UNAMA’s new report stated.

8. Major Crimes Process Pressure (MCTF)

In 2009, the Afghan authorities created the Major Crimes Activity Pressure (MCTF). From the beginning, the MCTF has been mentored by the FBI. They helped to build the capacity of the duty drive to research organized crime, kidnapping and corruption instances and develop instances for prosecution by the Afghan Lawyer Basic’s Office. The US authorities, in line with a report from SIGAR, offered no less than 15.5 million USD to assist the MCTF, including refurbishing and maintaining its amenities and training and mentoring its investigators. In July 2010, the MCTF went for its first massive arrest, bringing within the chief of administration of the National Safety Council, Muhammad Zia Salehi, on corruption costs. Nevertheless, President Karzai ordered his fast launch. The US backed off, deciding not to help the MCTF prosecution. It thereby consolidated the effective impunity loved by the highest-ranking Afghan officials from anti-corruption efforts. Karzai’s successful interference ruined the Main Crimes Activity Drive. Since then, it has achieved little. Virtually the whole unique leadership of the unit emigrated to the US following the shutdown of the Salehi investigation and has experienced instability in its management ever since.

The task drive, however, was stored alive within the shadows of its one-time-off glory. In 2016, with the creation of the ACJC, it was given a second probability. Nevertheless, a revamping of the unit was marked with confusion and conflict. The 2018 SIGAR report on Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts, for instance, identified that, “despite efforts by the Afghan government to clarify the regulation, Afghan officers have differing opinions about when the MCTF’s detective position ends and when the Lawyer Common’s Workplace’s (AGO) investigative position begins, which has led to recurring conflict between these two organizations.”

The identical report additionally stated that “a scarcity of assets and security has been a continued detriment for detectives, investigators, prosecutors, and judges in Afghanistan” and that “the MCTF depends on the worldwide group to offer assets for its day-to-day operations as a result of it can’t rely on the MOI to completely authorize its funding.” The report stated that in one case in 2017:

The MOI’s leadership appears to have halved the MCTF’s finances as a punitive measure because MCTF detectives refused to turn over an embezzlement case value $three.8 million to the “notoriously ineffective” MOI Inspector Common. (The MCTF detectives carried forward with the case and it was ultimately tried at the ACJC, however the courts only convicted the lowest-ranked defendants, and only for their attempts to bribe the MCTF to drop the case.)

Moreover, the unit additionally struggled with its new leadership, which was itself accused of unethical and corrupt behaviour. In April 2018, UNAMA reported, “the director of MCTF has been removed and regardless of allegations of unethical and corrupt behaviour, he was never formally charged.” Between April and September 2018, it stated, the unit had two appearing directors, earlier than the present director, Colonel Muhammad Hamed, was appointed.

In October 2018, the SIGAR in its common quarterly report stated that the MCTF did “not look like the lead Afghan authorities investigative company for top profile corruption crimes, as meant” and that its investigators have been “not one of the best certified, with some investigators probably being assigned to the MCTF as a type of patronage.”

9. Financial Transactions and Studies Analysis Centre of Afghanistan(FinTRACA)

FinTRACA was established based mostly on a legislative decree on Anti-Money Laundering and

Proceeds of Crime Regulation in 2006. It is the monetary intelligence unit of the Central Financial institution. Its mandate is to trace money flows and stop money laundering and terrorism financing. It analyses monetary crimes and disseminates financial intelligence to the Lawyer Common’s Workplace and other government and intelligence businesses to assist them in combatting cash laundering and financial terrorism.

It is likely one of the few accountability institutions whose mandate is predicated in regulation. Since its inception, the workplace has been working nicely, reporting its output often on an annual foundation. In 2018, for instance, the FinTRACA reported that it had transferred 56 instances to relevant authorities businesses for investigation and prosecution, which included eight to the AGO, 16 to the MoI and 20 to the National Directorate of Safety, amongst others.

The 2019 UNAMA report accommodates an in depth record of FinTRACA achievements, but in addition notes that extra work to counter money-laundering and terrorism financing is required, especially because the European Fee blacklisted Afghanistan for strategic deficiencies on this area. The report stated:

In February 2019, the European Commission adopted a blacklist of 23 third nations, together with Afghanistan, for having strategic deficiencies of their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks. Although the record was rejected by some European Union member states, Afghanistan’s look on it’s a sign that it needs to proceed to strengthen its commendable efforts to counter money-laundering and terrorism financing.

Institutional Auditors

10. Supreme Audit Office

The Supreme Audit Office comes from an extended lineage of similar institutions from Afghanistan’s past. The primary was theGeneral Division for the Audit of Accounts established in 1945, inside the purview of the prime minister’s office. Its foremost objective was to audit the financial and accounting affairs of the government. The Common Division for the Audit of Accounts identify was modified to the Courtroom of Accounts in 1954 with the approval of parliament. The duties of the office remained the same. In 1965, the workplace was again renamed, turning into the Basic Division for the Audit of Accounts. A code of conduct and audit guide was issued during that interval. In 1977, the once more renamed Courtroom of Accounts inside the purview of the president’s workplace was authorised by a brand new regulation. Through the Soviet-backed PDPA regime, in 1984, its identify and mandate have been once more changed. Because the Governmental Committee of Councils Minister Controllers, it was liable for auditing economic, cultural and social activities, including development, healthcare, transport and trade activities. In 1992, it lost its unbiased status and functioned beneath the Office of Administrative Affairs. In 2002 it regained its unbiased status and became often known as the Management and Audit Office. Its last re-naming was in 2013. Since then, the Supreme Audit Office has labored consistent with a regulation handed by parliament.

Based on the 2013 regulation, the Supreme Audit Office (SAO) has a strong mandate. It has the authority to audit the accounting and monetary affairs of the president’s workplace and its associated entities; the national meeting; the judiciary; central and local establishments and associated models within and out of doors the nation; common unbiased directorates; unbiased commissions; the Lawyer Common’s Office; municipalities; enterprises, authorities corporations and state joint stock corporations and; other entities that utilise or maintain public funds or public property.

But, regardless of this wide-ranging power to look into monetary irregularities, it has never used it. For example, in 2017 an MP accused the speaker of the parliament of embezzling Wolesi Jirga funds (see this AAN detailed account of the case). As AAN reported, the media claimed that 50 million Afghanis (approximately 725,000 USD) had been taken from the Wolesi Jirga’s finances to pay for the lease of the speaker’s home, guest home and office in the course of the preceding 5 years. Although this was all made public, the SAO’s annual audits famous no irregularities within the Wolesi Jirga finances. Nor did it question the just about one million USD spent on house rents.

The second concern with the SAO is its management. Director Sharif Sharifi, a Tajik from Panjshir province with a master’s degree in Pure Science, is the brother of former Wolesi Jirga speaker, former vice-president and a number one determine within the Jamiat-e Islami/Shura-ye Nizar faction, Yunus Qanuni. Sharifi held this place – auditor basic – from 2002 until earlier this yr. He had additionally been the driving drive behind the 2013 regulation, which, after it was handed by the Wolesi Jirga, secured him an extra six-year term in the identical office. Lastly,  In February 2019, the president appointed a brand new SAO director based mostly on the 2017 revisions to the regulation. The brand new auditor common is a relatively younger man named Muhammad Na’em Haqmal (born in 1980) who is from Sar-e Pul province.

The top of Sharifi’s time period coincided with President Ghani’s drive to amend the 2013 SAO Regulation. In line with the UNAMA report, the first round of amendments to the regulation did not deliver concerning the required in-depth reforms. The report stated:

Apart from unnecessary modifications within the terminology, the 2017 amendments lowered the Auditor Common’s term of appointment from six to 4 years, whereas retaining the President’s appointment power. This contravened the recommendation in worldwide requirements and norms, which states: “(T)he independence of [State audit institutions’] heads and members (of collegial institutions), together with safety of tenure and legal immunity in the normal discharge of their duties” must be ensured and they need to be “given appointments with sufficiently lengthy and glued terms, to permit them to hold out their mandates without worry of retaliation”. 

UNAMA did welcome amendments that require the accounting and auditing carried out by the SAO to be up to the requirements of the Worldwide Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions. As of Might 2019, the draft regulation was still with the Ministry of Justice for consideration.

Conclusion, and what to watch out for in Afghan anti-corruption efforts

Many institutions have been created supposedly to counter corruption in the years since 2001. But, the nation has little to point out for them. The 2019 UNAMA report, though detailing some smart, constructive developments, highlighted some critical shortfalls. It’s worrying that some 18 years into state-building and over ten years because the country ratified the United Nations Convention towards Corruption, it nonetheless can’t deliver on a primary requirement – really unbiased anti-corruption establishments. In Afghanistan high-centralised state, some anti-corruption-related our bodies nonetheless come immediately underneath the president’s authority. In different words, the individual with the facility to nominate the management of those our bodies then also typically presides over them.

It stays to be seen how the conflicting mandates of the Anti-Corruption Fee and the lately created Deputy AGO on anti-corruption, might be resolved as soon as the fee is created. We will even have to wait to see how the MEC and the Anti-Corruption Commission, both of which have a mandate to research and monitor anti-corruption, work in follow, and whether or not this lack of readability might be a supply of potential conflict and ineffectiveness between the 2 establishments.

The sheer number of establishments in addition to frequent modifications of leadership within most of them – whereas others have seen no change, itself additionally a problem – as well as recurrent amendments to the regulation don’t inspire confidence. It could possibly be argued that the fluctuating variety of anti-corruption institutions need to do with presidents testing what format of establishment works for his or her country and society. Nevertheless, it appears more like anti-corruption efforts have mainly been inspired by something else – strain from outdoors (notably through the Karzai years) to be seen to be doing something. In a rentier financial system, even anti-corruption establishments might be rent-seeking, at greatest, automobiles for deploying donor money, or at worst, places which help corruption, for example, if officers use instances to get bribes from alleged offenders to not pursue instances.

The one good news in all that is the minimal decline in petty corruption, as skilled by residents. Nevertheless, the shortage of any high-profile trials means there’s little worry among perpetrators that their legal endeavours carry danger. This lack of judicial follow-through signifies that the political will to attempt to cope with grand corruption obvious in 2016 and 2017 has in all probability now pale. This should come as no shock. 2019 is a presidential election yr. It is very unlikely we’ll see any high-profile case at this politically-sensitive second. On this current assessment, it seems obvious that, while the current state of anti-corruption establishments might or might not endure into the subsequent presidency, grand corruption will certainly achieve this.


Edited by Sari Kouvo and Kate Clark


(1) In response to a 2018 survey from the main Afghan anti-corruption watchdog, Integrity Watch Afghanistan’s (IWA) perceptions and experiences of corruption estimated the whole worth of bribes in 2018 to have fallen to 1.65 billion USD (from 2.88 billion USD in 2016). In 2016, greater than 70 per cent of Afghans thought that corruption was worse than it had been in 2014 when an identical survey was carried out. An earlier perception survey on corruption by UNODC in 2012 estimated that the whole value of bribes paid by Afghan citizens to public officials amounted to three.9 billion USD that yr (see here).

The IWA and UNODC stories are based mostly on a survey on residents’ perceptions and experiences. High-level corruption, which is often not a theme of these surveys (but of official investigations and prosecutions), can also be widespread. For example, see this AAN dossier on the Kabul Bank scandal, which involved Afghan officers and businessmen at the highest ranges, together with former President Karzai and First Vice President Marshal Fahim’s brothers, within the theft of almost one billion USD, representing the state’s entrenched culture of corruption and cronyism. Till now, Afghan authorities have only retrieved 89 million USD from the debtors, lower than 10 per cent of the stolen money.

(2) All of those new laws have been handed by way of presidential legislative decrees and this apply (of passing key laws by decree) was the subject of an earlier, 2018 UNAMA report on anti-corruption. It stated this follow was not compliant with the UNCAC, which Afghanistan ratified on 25 August 2008. The report stated:

Though UNCAC Articles 5, 6 and 36 don’t require the adoption of a dedicated anti-corruption regulation, it recommends that the independence and accountability of anti-corruption institutions be “enshrined in regulation fairly than government decrees (which may easily create such a body but in addition abolish it).”

(3) In line with the IWA report, Karzai appointed Dr Ludin as governor of Herat in 2002. Nevertheless, Ismail Khan, then-governor of Herat, did not acknowledge Dr Ludin’s authority and compelled him to go away the town. Upon his return to Kabul, President Karzai initially appointed Dr Ludin as an advisor after which as Director Common of the Basic Unbiased Administration Towards Corruption (GIAAC). The IWA report stated:

The GIAAC was the primary anti-corruption establishment established in Afghanistan. Like many to comply with, it was established with no research on the nature of corruption within the nation and with no corresponding policy or strategy. As head of the GIAAC, the first thing Dr Ludin did was to initiate a corruption case towards Ismail Khan. Along with the case towards Ismail Khan, the GIAAC initiated some 80 other instances, most of which have been targeted on foes of Dr Ludin.

(4) These included: the Excessive Office for the Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOO); Main Crimes Activity Pressure (MCTF); Monetary Transactions and Studies Analysis Centre of Afghanistan (FinTRACA); the Unbiased Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) inside HOO.

(5) Approval of the anti-corruption technique was additionally a benchmark to which the Afghan authorities committed itself on the Brussels Conference in October 2016. In Brussels, the Afghan authorities pledged to deliver on numerous benchmarks by sure deadlines. The Excessive Council released the anti-corruption technique on 12 October 2017 after it missed the mid-2017 deadline.

(6) These embrace, based mostly on legislative presidential decrees, the Administration for Asset Registration and the former HOO); on government presidential decrees MEC, ACJC, and the Special Secretariat of the High Council and; on a easy regulation, the Major Crimes Activity Drive.

(7) In accordance with Decree 94 on the Excessive Council for Rule of Regulation and Anti-Corruption from 17 August 2016, the permanent members of the High Council are: Chief Government Officer; Second Vice President; Chief Justice; National Security Advisor; Director of Administrative Affairs of President‘s Office; Minister of Finance; Minister of Justice; Minister of Inside Affairs; Lawyer Basic; Basic Director of the NDS; Presidential Advisors on Justice and Transparency affairs; Director of the Unbiased Fee on overseeing the Implementation of Constitution; Director of Independence Human Rights Commission; Director of Unbiased Directorate of Native Governance; Director of the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption.

(eight) Based on the Lawyer Common’s Workplace, UNAMA reported, within the second half of 2018, the ACJC Chief Prosecutor submitted 35 indictments to the ACJC Main Courtroom of which the courtroom referred 21 instances for the prosecution to cover recognized gaps.