Anti-Corruption Justice Center Cracks Down on Impunity

 

ACJC trying a corruption case in 2016. Photo credit: Office of the Chief of Staff of the President

January 18, 2018
 
 
Earlier this month, the Anti-Corruption Justice Center (ACJC) convicted several former senior government officials on charges of corruption, in one of its latest cases to root out corruption in government. Six senior officials from the Ministry of Interior were convicted for misuse of funds and authority, and bribery.
 
President Ashraf Ghani ordered the establishment of the ACJC during the summer of 2016 to specifically go after government officials perpetrating corruption, as a key part of the government’s commitment to rooting out corruption. According to Yama Torabi, Head of the Special Anti-Corruption Secretariat for the High Council on Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption, the ACJC has tried 92 cases, sentenced 94 people on corruption charges, and issued penalties totaling 65 million dollars, as of January 14. 
 
The majority of Afghans reported this year that corruption is a major problem in their daily lives. The work of the ACJC is critical in not only bringing criminals to justice, but restoring Afghan citizens’ trust in their government. Trials are open to the public, and attended and monitored by representatives from international and national civil society and the media.  
 
Focus has been concentrated on rooting out corruption at the Ministry of Interior, and is a pillar of the government’s National Strategy for Combatting Corruption, which is currently being implemented. The Minister of Interior, Wais Barmak, has made anti-corruption and reforms the focus of his tenure since being confirmed by the Parliament late last year. 
 
In last week’s case, former Deputy Minister of Interior Morteza Rahimi, former Deputy Minister of Interior General Abdulwasi Raoufi, former Chief of Protocol Nawidullah Bakhshi, as well as three other staff members of the Ministry of Interior, received sentences of years behind bars for crimes committed in 2016.
 
According to Alem Atiq, spokesperson for the ACJC, the convicted officials were charged with including an unqualified and ineligible company in a procurement process for fuel at the MoI, with the intention to embezzle funds. The case was brought to light by the National Procurement Authority (NPA), which convenes a committee weekly to review contracts for high-sum government procurement. The NPA then made a referral to the Attorney General’s Office for investigation. 
 
In another recent case, Dahiulhaq Abed, former deputy minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs, a director from the same ministry, and a member of the Balkh Provincial Council were also convicted and found guilty of falsification of documents and abuse of authority, and sentenced to time behind bars. 
 
These cases come on the heels of another high-level case last month. Zemarai Paikan, the former head of the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP), was sentenced to time behind bars for multiple offenses, including abuse of authority and involvement in murder. 
 
Similar cases were brought to justice last year through the ACJC, including the sentencing and fining of four former senior officials at the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing found guilty of embezzlement. 
 
Earlier this month, in a speech at the graduation ceremony of 446 police officers at the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, President Ghani strongly reinforced his hard line against corruption and said that impunity will no longer be tolerated, specifically mentioning the Ministry of Interior where comprehensive reforms are being carried out under Minister Wais Barmak.
 
“Recruitment should be conducted based on the police’s rules and regulations and no more personal recommendations should be accepted,” the President said. “I direct the Ministry of Interior that all administrative affairs of young and senior officers, and appointments and promotions should be done based on the regulations of administrative affairs of officers.” He also warned Members of Parliament not to interfere at the Ministry of Interior by asking for appointments for their relatives and friends. 
 
The work of the ACJC, the National Procurement Authority, and the reforms underway at the Ministries of Interior and Defense are parts of a wider, coordinated effort across government to expose and cut opportunities for corruption, and end impunity to those perpetrating corruption.