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Transparency International says donors must insist Afghanistan introduce anti-corruption reforms

At today’s donor meeting about aid to Afghanistan in London, Transparency International is calling on both the donors and the new Afghan government to commit to introducing key anti-corruption reforms on a fixed timetable to ensure all aid gets to the people who need it.

“Corruption is the single most critical factor that the people of Afghanistan worry about after security. The government and the donors must act together to ensure that no more development aid is lost to corruption,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International

“After all the corruption scandals of billions of dollars related to aid for reconstruction, donors and the Afghan authorities have to assure the people of Afghanistan and the international community that not an additional dollar is going to be diverted for personal gain of a few. This requires new laws and significant commitment to enforce radical anti-corruption measures in favour of the people,” said Ugaz.

Transparency International is making seven key recommendations that it believes will help stop the corruption that is devastating the lives of all Afghanis but disproportionately hurting the poor.

Afghanistan is ranked 172 out of 175 countries on the 2014 Transparency International Corruption Index with a score of just 12 out of 100 indicating rampant and destructive corruption.

The government should:

  • Promote clean leadership in key institutions, including the Auditor General, Attorney General and the Minister of the Interior, by appointing people known for their integrity. These people should voluntarily disclose their assets.
  • Make the Judiciary independent by mandating an independent body of judicial appointments and selecting judges who can demonstrate competence and integrity.
  • Establish an independent right to information commission that is well-resourced to ensure the new Right to Information law is properly used and promoted to the public.
  • Establish an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency that is well-funded agency with the powers to investigate corruption and that is independent so people will begin to believe that the corrupt will be prosecuted.
  • Mandate all top officials publish asset declarations that are available to the public and institute punitive measures for non-compliance or false declarations.
  • Establish a robust procurement regulatory system to ensure procurement transparency. Corruption risks are particular high in public procurement so the government urgently needs a regulatory system with a strong auditing system including laws to criminalise and penalise fraud, corruption, collusion and conflicts of interest.
  • Financial transparency and public finance integrity: the new government must implement the commitments made at the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework including instituting a Financial Intelligence Unit and effective controls of cross boarder cash transactions.

In addition there should be strict oversight of the police and Army reform. In the extractives industry, Afghanistan must adopt greater transparency including disclosure of contracts, concessions and financial information must be publicly and systematically reported.

Anticorruption measures have to be consistent with the post-conflict reality: control of money flows, of real estate and acquisition of luxury goods. There should be published information about land titles that is easily searchable and transparency in monitoring of public works, specifically construction of state buildings.

To achieve this, Transparency International recommends that donors set up and support a multi-stakeholder group (donors, International NGOs and local civil society) to work with the government and agree on clear benchmarks with a timeline against which progress will be measured as a way to monitor and administer future aid.

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