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To fight corruption, Afghanistan must strengthen and reform its anti-corruption agencies

The nine agencies currently tasked with anti-corruption work must be consolidated, according to new research by Transparency International

Afghanistan’s system for fighting corruption has too many separate anti-corruption agencies (ACAs) and not enough coordination or independence to be effective, according to new research by Transparency International, which is recommending an overhaul of the current structures.

Bridging the gaps: enhancing the effectiveness of Afghanistan’s anti-corruption agencies analyses the nine anti-corruption agencies, identifies the deficiencies in the system, and puts forward three options for consolidating the current systems in order to strengthen the government’s fight against corruption.

“The lives of ordinary Afghan citizens will improve exponentially if they do not have to face corruption at every turn for every public service. This is why it is critical for the government to act on its commitments to fight corruption and put in place a system that works,” said Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.

Afghanistan ranks 169 out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 and surveys show that almost 80 per cent of citizens say that corruption is a serious problem in their daily lives.

To be effective, any anti-corruption agency must be independent and have the resources to investigate and prosecute free from political interference. This presupposes a strong and independent judiciary.

The new study shows that the lack of independence in the judicial system hampers the fight against corruption in Afghanistan. In addition, the overlapping and badly defined roles of the nine agencies currently mandated to fight corruption mean that there is poor communication between agencies and a lack of accountability.

The Transparency International research takes a pragmatic approach, outlining three options for strengthening the fight against corruption based on a study of best practice.

Ideally, Afghanistan should establish a new, independent ACA to replace all current ACAs. However, this would require an amendment to the constitution and would face a major challenge to ensure that it functions as an independent watchdog without fear or favour, regardless of the position or status of those being investigated.

To avoid the need to seek a constitutional amendment, Transparency International recommends Afghanistan set up a two-agency model by merging the current ACAs: this would consolidate the nine agencies and better define their roles and objectives.

Transparency International also recommends that the current High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption (HOOAC), should be reorganised and mandated to provide prevention, education and awareness-raising which is missing in the current structure.

At a bare minimum Afghanistan should reform its current multi-agency model so that there are fewer conflicts of interest between agencies and less duplication of functions. It should further enhance the independence of the investigations and strengthen the current judicial system.


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