The Ambassadorial Anti-Corruption Group raised concern about the slowdown in Afghanistan’s anti-corruption efforts, in a statement on Thursday.
“Addressing widespread corruption is crucial for sustainable peace and prosperity in Afghanistan,” the grouping said. “The upcoming peace talks require all parties to demonstrate their commitment to integrity, accountability and the rule of law by concrete actions rather than polarization through mutual accusations of corrupt practices.
The group comprises of the Heads of Missions for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), along with eight nations, and the World Bank, NATO’s Senior Civilian Representative Stefano Pontecorvo, the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, UK and the European Union.
Their statement referred to UNAMA’s annual anti-corruption report and said that Afghanistan has continuously delayed the establishment of the strategic and institutional Anti-Corruption framework and caused “serious concern.”
The Group said, “The lack of effective investigations and prosecutions, in particular of high-level suspects, is also worrisome and we urge thorough investigation of the multiple allegations of misuse of public funds. It is paramount that these shortcomings are addressed to provide the necessary confidence and assurance for Afghan citizens.”
They welcomed President Ashraf Ghani’s assurances that anti-corruption will be high on the political agenda and urged the government to deliver on these assurances, by committing to measurable targets, such as empowering the Supreme Audit Office and swiftly establishing the Anti-Corruption Commission.
While relying on an interim document to fill immediate gaps, within one year, the Government should adopt a genuine anti-corruption strategy building on a thorough assessment of the previous strategy through an inclusive consultation process, the group advised.
They also expect “substantial progress” on prosecution and enforcement of court orders and warrants, particularly in high-level cases and on strengthening of the capacity for effective, impartial and transparent implementation of policies and strategies. Findings of investigations by review bodies must be public. Institutions must be competent, independent and transparent and appointments to the new government and related institutions, as well as their future policies, must be guided by principles of good governance, rule of law and accountability.
“At this point, a strong and positive signal is needed,” the group urged as they warned that international partners who have been mobilising significant resources in support of the government in the fight against corruption, do not want to see reforms fade or fail now, as it would also mean a loss of these investments.