Afghanistan will mark this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day with the news that over the past year Afghans have paid nearly 1.2 billion USD in bribes and more than 1.2 million acres of land have been seized illegally, according to corruption watchdog Integrity Watch Afghanistan.
December 9 has been called International Anti-Corruption Day since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption on October of 2003. Administrative corruption and lack of rule of law are considered two of the most pressing issues facing Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, and they continue to pose major threats to the legitimacy of the government and the viability of the national economy.
Large scale corruption inside the government institutions in Afghanistan has undermined country’s economic development and both the Afghan people and international community have mounted criticism over the issue.
“All know the fragile situation at customs, where money of the people of Afghanistan goes to personal accounts, and mines are extracted illegally in thousands of areas across the country,” Integrity Watch Afghanistan chief Syed Ekram Afzali told TOLOnews on Tuesday. “These are all public assets that are looted and put into personal accounts.”
Touching on the issue of corruption, President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Representative for Reform and Good Governance, Ahmad Zia Massoud, said on Tuesday that the elimination of corruption wouldn’t be possible unless all necessary reforms are implemented on the country’s administrative system and administrative laws.
“The ominous phenomena of corruption will remain unless we bring essential reforms in Afghanistan and accelerate the process of bringing reforms,” Massoud said. He went on to criticize the bureaucratic culture in Afghanistan and stressed the need for simplifications in administrative processes across the board.
Although there has been documented corruption among members of parliament, MP Humaira Ayoubi openly admitted that graft has taken root in all three branches of government. “Legislative, executive and judicial bodies who are supposed to eliminate corruption are in fact involved in corruption,” Ayoubi told TOLOnews.
Transparency International released its 2014 corruption perception index and listed Afghanistan as a country that has taken steps to curtail corruption. However, it was still the 4th most corrupt country in the world according to the index.
Throughout Afghanistan, local and high-level corruption are a part of everyday life. One Kabul resident who asked not to be named, painted a mural on a wall in the capital showing two hands exchanging money. “I have painted a picture that shows two hands exchanging money, meaning corruption is everywhere in Afghanistan.”
With the formation of the national unity government, there has been increased hope among Afghans and the international community that concerted efforts against corruption would be made. President Ashraf Ghani’s initial move to reopen the Kabul Bank case and increase the prison sentences for those involved as well as recuperating all the money stolen from the bank was received well.