Integrity Watch Afghanistan, a Kabul-based monitoring organization, on Thursday said that the Attorney General’s Office and the Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center (ACJC) have failed to handle major corruption cases in the country.
“The reason for the inefficiency within the ACJC in its efforts against corruption is due to the political interference in its work, and also the disrespect shown to the sovereignty of the Attorney General by the government,” said Sayed Ekram Afzali, the head of Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA).
“Challenges that exist in this area include a lack of transparency in the selection of the cases despite the fact that the law has already defined some standards for them. A second challenge is the weakness of the responsible institutions to serve justice equally to suspects,” said Khairullah Saraj, an adviser to The Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring Committee (MEC).
But the AGO has said that over the past six months the ACJC has managed to process corruption cases involving 90 government officials.
“Some other cases are under the scrutiny of this attorney (ACJC), and the necessary decisions will be made about these cases once the investigations are wrapped up,” said Jamshid Rasuli, a spokesman for the AGO.
The Anti-Corruption Criminal Justice Center (ACJC) was established to probe cases of corruption against high-level government officials, but the ACJC since its establishment in 2016 has had only one cabinet minister who faced trial-- and he was acquitted.
After assuming office as president in 2014, President Ashraf Ghani pledged to fight corruption in the government institutions regardless of someone’s post and political position. However, critics say that Ghani has failed to deliver on his promises to fight graft.
“We are ready to make all government officials accountable to the law regardless of their posts,” said Ghani during a speech in 2016.
Last month, Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Afghanistan and described corruption as a major challenge for the country.
The UN envoy said that the impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major obstacle to fighting corruption in Afghanistan.
“Like so many countries, Afghanistan continues to be plagued by corruption, which corrodes the confidence of the population and the donor community, and fuels the ongoing conflict. In spite of progress made in previous years in anti-corruption reforms, this progress has slowed in the past year, with key institutional reforms being neglected, including the establishment of the all-too-important independent anti-corruption commission. Apparent impunity of well-connected political figures remains a major issue. Additional progress in the fight against corruption is therefore crucial as the 2020 Pledging Conference on Afghanistan approaches,” she said.