Cablegate: Us-Afghan Partnership Creates New Institutions to Fight

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1. Summary: Seven Ministerial level speakers joined the Ambassador
and UK Ambassador in stressing the importance of reducing corruption
in Afghanistan at an Embassy-organized media event in Kabul on
November 16. At this event highlighting growing bilateral and
multilateral engagement in this sphere, Minister of Interior Atmar
announced his government's plan to establish an Anti-Corruption
Tribunal as well as the existence of the Major Crimes Task Force and
the Attorney General's Anti-Corruption Unit. These anti-corruption
entities may signal a new willingness on the part of the Afghans to
fight corruption and, together with the existing crime-fighting
capabilities of the Counter-Narcotics Justice Task Force and the
National Interdiction Unit, could form the backbone of an effective
law enforcement effort in the country. However, transformation of
the High Office of Oversight (HOO, the Afghan government entity
charged with combating corruption administratively) is necessary to
fight corruption more effectively. Non-law enforcement efforts are
equally important, including efforts to influence corrupt officials
to change their behavior and to improve Afghan government capacity,
transparency, and accountability. End Summary.


2. Anti-Corruption Tribunal: In early November 2009, the Supreme
Court appointed a national Anti-Corruption Tribunal (ACT) to comply
with a provision of the Afghan Law on Overseeing the Implementation
of the Anti-Corruption Strategy (the "HOO Law"). The ACT is
composed of 11 judges - seven Appellate and four Primary Court
judges. After nominees pass polygraph exams (a precondition for
sitting on this court), they will be able to accept significant
cases from across Afghanistan. The court does not yet have offices,
a courtroom, administrative staff, or technical support. DOJ has
proposed salary supplements and administrative support for the
judges, and INL is considering the request. The ACT could be an
important tool in Afghan anti-corruption efforts, but this
initiative will require substantial human and financial resources
from Washington and international partners. Post is currently
assessing the practical start-up needs and projections costs to
maintain the ACT in the future.

3. Major Crimes Task Force: Initiated in May 2009, the Major
Crimes Task Force (MCTF) is the FBI's primary corruption-fighting
effort in Afghanistan. The MCTF currently consists of a Kidnapping
Investigation Unit and a Corruption Investigation Unit, and officer
selection is underway to add an Organized Crime Unit and an
Intelligence Unit. MCTF strength is currently 100 Afghan
investigators from the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and National
Directorate of Security (NDS). The FBI, together with the UK
Serious and Organized Crimes Agency (SOCA) and the Australian
Federal Police, provide mentors, while the U.S. military builds
intelligence capacity. INL provides funding. The MCTF is located
at Camp Falcon, which may be the home of the Anti-Corruption
Tribunal in the near future.

4. Anti Corruption Unit: Established in May 2009, the
Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) consists of 12 specially selected, vetted
prosecutors from the Afghan Attorney General's office. The ACU
prosecutes corruption cases involving mid- and high-level government
officials, and will serve as the prosecutorial arm of the MCTF. As
soon as prosecutors have passed a polygraph examination, they are
able to work on MCTF cases. Prosecutors from the U.S., UK, and
EUPOL mentor ACU prosecutors, and the UK supplements salaries;
agencies provide funding. The ACU expects to indict several senior
Afghan officials in the near term, and already faces a backlog of
cases. INL has provided some additional funding for the mentoring
process and DOJ is providing more mentoring attorneys in 2010. The
AG has requested additional assistance, including air transportation
to the provinces for prosecutors.

--------------------------------------------- -----

5. Counter-Narcotics Justice Task Force: Established by law in
2005 and focused primarily on the prosecution of major drug
trafficking offenses, the Counter-Narcotics Justice Task Force
(CJTF) also prosecutes narcotics-related corruption cases. Located
at the Counter-Narcotics Justice Center in Kabul, its 35
investigators, 30 prosecutors and 14 judges have handed down some
1555 convictions since 2005, including numerous corruption cases
involving senior Afghan National Police (ANP) officers. Considered
the country's premier investigative, prosecution and judicial
institution, the CJTF serves as a model for other anti-corruption
bodies in Afghanistan. Six Senior Legal Advisors from US DOJ mentor
the CJTF, funded by INL.

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6. The National Interdiction Unit: The National Interdiction Unit
(NIU) is a specialized tactical enforcement arm of the
Counter-Narcotics Police - Afghanistan (CNP-A), which works closely
with DEA. The NIU handles long-term investigations of major drug
trafficking organizations, monitors telecommunications, and arrests
individuals for prosecution in the Afghan criminal justice system.
Since its founding in 2004, it has grown from 50 ANP officers,
including four females, to 256 personnel, including six operational
teams and other groups dedicated to investigations and surveillance.
With U.S. financial and training support through INL and DEA, the
NIU has plans to grow to 500 ANP officers in the months ahead, and
platoon-sized units will be deployed to Regional Centers in Konduz,
Jalalabad, Kandahar and Herat. This expansion should greatly
enhance Afghan drug enforcement capacity.


7. High Office of Oversight: Established by Presidential Decree in
July 2008 at the insistence of the international community, the High
Office of Oversight (HOO) began operations in September 2008. The
primary Afghan government anti-corruption body, it oversees
prevention, develops and implements action plans, oversees
investigations and prosecutions and reports to President Karzai.
Its main achievement to date is initiating the Asset Registration
process, a required benchmark for the Afghan Reconstruction Trust
Fund (ARTF). However, the process has been imperfect and has fallen
far short of expectations. The HOO has received about 78 percent of
asset declarations requested of public officials, but has not yet
conducted any verification review. HOO activities and staff are
financed largely by foreign donors, primarily the UN and USG. The
enabling legislation for the HOO provides little political and
budgetary independence, limited authority to compel others to take
action, and no authority to verify asset declarations or investigate
complaints. The HOO law also fails to make filing a false
declaration a criminal offense. International donors are pressing
for reform of its authorizing legislation, but extensive revision
and major budgetary and political support, including an
international advisory board, will be necessary. Post will provide
recommendations for necessary and massive reform of the HOO septel.


8. Post also assists the Afghan government and non-government
institutions prevent and detect corruption, including auditing,
procurement, and civil service reform. Afghanistan's Control and
Audit Office (CAO) is responsible for external audit of government
accounts, but is not independent from the executive. The USG
continues to advocate for CAO independence. Post also coordinates
with the World Bank to assist the Ministry of Finance to fulfill its
internal audit function and to formulate and implement procurement
reforms. Finally, the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil
Service Commission (IARCSC) plays the essential role of creating and
supporting a merit-based civil service. In partnership with USAID,
IARCSC restructuring the civil service and training 16,000
government employees in five key functions, including procurement
and financial management.


9. Establishment of the Afghan corruption-fighting institutions is
an important step towards fighting this scourge. Substantial
additional resources will be needed to ensure that they are able to
function effectively. (Post will send assessments of resource needs
septel.) Initiatives such as establishing the Judicial Security
Unit (reftel) and building regional courts of competence are also
vital to the effort and will require substantial resources from
international donors. However, law enforcement is not the only --
or always the most effective -- way to reduce corruption in
Afghanistan. With the lengthy periods necessary to successfully
prosecute a corrupt official, Post is exploring additional ways to
influence behavior and punish offenders. These include incentives
to change behavior (carrots), such as salary plus-ups or other
additional resources, and disincentives (sticks), such as seizing
assets, severing relationships, ending development assistance,
taking back armored vehicles and security details, and applying
Presidential Proclamation 7750 to deny visas to corrupt officials
and their families and associates. Recognizing that preventing and
detecting corruption is as important as punishing it, Post's
anti-corruption strategy, currently under review in Washington,
places equal emphasis on improving Afghan government capacity,
transparency, and accountability.

© Scoop Media

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