Only one out of every 250 women drug addicts in Afghanistan receive treatment

PAYK, Center for Investigative Journalism Kabul, September 2017 In a recent investigation into the state of women drug addicts in the country, PAYK found that less than one percent of such addicts have been treated.

Data and information from the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Counter-Narcotics, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Counter Narcotics (UNODC), estimate that the total number of drug-addicted women in Afghanistan is up to 850,000, of which nearly 200,000 need urgent treatment. But the efforts of the Afghan government with the support of the international community to combat addiction and provide health services to needy addicts have not managed to cover even one percent of these addicts. While officials from the Ministry of Public Health confirm that half of the total drug addicts in the country are in need of treatment, and the rest of them are using drugs only intermittently, there are just 2500 beds to host these drug addicts in all 34 provinces. In effect, the treatment facilities do not have the capacity to handle more than 40,000 patients in one year. Overall, the Afghan government has failed to treat even less than one thousand women addicts in the past one and a half years.


Unprecedented increase and negligible capacity


There are only 13 treatment centers with more than 600 beds for at least 200,000 addicted women to receive immediate treatment in six provinces (Kabul, Badakhshan, Balkh, Herat, Farah and Nangarhar) in the country. The Ministry of Public Health also confirms that this capacity is not enough, since, according to the Ministry of Public Health, 95% of treated addicts relapse. The economic and social difficulties in the country, including the increase in poverty levels, insecurity and unemployment, and the lack of a systematic and sustainable program for the prevention of addiction, recreational facilities, sports, coupled with the suppression of some women in a number of families and the communities, are factors that contribute to the tendency of women to use drugs. Some drug treatment centers in Kabul revealed that there were no women addicts at the centers two years ago, but nowadays there are dozens of dedicated health centers and hundreds of women addicts in urgent need of treatment. Dr. Abdul Shukoor Haidari is the person in charge at the Department for the Reduction in the Demand for Drugs at the Ministry of Public Health told PAYK's correspondent that there are at least 40,000 addicts treatment per year in treatment centers, and 35 percent of these are women and children. However, this data provided by the department cannot be verified from the official documents examined. These documents revealed that only about 17,574 addicts, including 421 women and 128 children were treated in more than 100 health centers nationwide last year. These official documents provided by the institution in response to PAYK’s request show that there are there are 103 treatment or rehabilitation centers across 32 provinces. The provinces of Uruzgan and Nuristan however do not have any treatment centers for drug-addicted women and children at all. Amenah, a 50-year-old woman who has been using opium for many years with her addict son in the Aqtipa village of Qala-e-Zal district of Kunduz Province, and has spent all her life’s savings and fortunes (agricultural land and several cows and sheep) on drugs says: "If I do not take opium, I feel pain. I cannot work, wish there was a way to receive treatment so I could be rid of this…” Speaking in Turkic dialect and pointing to her grandson, she revealed that her daughter-in-law and grandchildren are also addicts and do not sleep comfortably without opium. Amenah hopes that the kids at least could be rescued from a life of addiction, but there is no individual or institution in the region that will help and guide her to this rehabilitation. Local authorities in Kunduz also accept that despite the opening of a new 20-bed rehabilitation center facility for the treatment of addicts in Qala-e- Zal district, there is no provision of related health services in this district. According to Dr. Abdul Qodos Miakhel, head of the Kunduz drug rehabilitation hospital, Qalal-e- Zal district has the highest number of women addicts compared to other districts in the country, but no health services have been provided so far. According to a UN report released last year, at least a quarter of a million Afghan citizens are addicted to drugs, accounting for 12 percent of the country's total population. According to the report, drug addiction statistics have risen by more than 60 percent since 2009. Following the increase and deterioration of the situation, Dr. Haidari said a budget of $ 9 million was approved last year, and a further $ 13 million has been approved for the current year for the treatment of addicts, but half of that amount has not been paid by the Ministry of Finance. In response to these remarks, Khosrow Muhmand, head of the health sector budget department of the Ministry of Finance, said to PAYK in an email: ""The project to establish treatment centers for drug addicts faced a lack of funds. The Ministry of Finance added over $ 2million to this budget in the fiscal year 1396, and the document has been approved by the cabinet." Erfanullah Erfan, a member of the House of Representatives, also confirmed that the budget documents proposed by the Ministry of Public Health for the treatment of drug addicts have been submitted for approval and will be approved by the end of the next two weeks. Based on data from the Ministry of Finance, the budget for the centers for the treatment of addicts for the current solar year is $ 13,140,000, of which $ 8.5 million has been provided by the Afghan government and another $ 4.5 million by the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (NIL). According to Mr. Muhmand, out of the 103 drug addiction treatment centers available in 32 provinces of the country, 57 centers have health services provided b by the Ministry of Public Health while services at the rest of the 46 centers are provided by NGOs.


Taking it easy is not the solution


Lack of access to affordable drugs in most cities and villages, of specialized centers for women addicts in 28 provinces, and the relapse of 95% of treated adults, are among the leading factors in the failure of the authorities to prevent addiction and sustain treatment of drug addicts. Meanwhile, in addition to the millions of dollars spent from the Afghan Government National Budget, the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has revealed that the U.S. has also spent more than $ 7.5 billion on combating drugs in Afghanistan over the past 15 years. But the question remains, despite the billions of dollars spent so far, why has the Afghan government failed to round up and treat the hundreds of addicts, men and women and children, who inhabit the streets, alleys and under bridges of the Kabul River, for instance? This is the key question that even the government officials are unable to answer. But, Hanif Danishyar the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Counter Narcotics says that as the global drug market is outside of Afghanistan and an insignificant amount of it is consumed internally, a serious struggle against this phenomenon requires global and regional cooperation, and without honest co-operation of the international community, this effort is beyond the capacity of the Afghan government. According to him, the cost of treatment for a single addict amounts to three to four dollars a day, which, given the increasing number of drug addicts, the Afghan Government is unable to afford. According to Danishyar, right now, several 45 to 90 days programs have been conducted towards rehabilitation from drug addiction in dozens of health centers throughout the country. The authorities of Ministry of Public Health have also reported that there are two female centers in Kabul and five other centers in the provinces of Balkh, Herat, Nangarhar, Nimroz, and Helmand. However, the institution accepts that the provision of health services for drug addicts in need of treatment across the country is insufficient and needs global support. Nonetheless, it is expected that government and international community can provide more funds to set up more health centers, that they can provide health care services for addicts who are in need of urgent care, and, on the other hand, to reduce to the minimum the easy and cheap access to narcotics. As recently reported by some national and international media outlets, prostitution and selling of children have been the latest consequences of drug addiction in some parts of the country. Guli Bano a young woman of 24 years, who underwent treatment at one of the health centers in Kabul however, for reasons of abuse, humiliation, poverty, unemployment, neglect, friendship with fellow addicts, and easy and cheap access to drugs, but has unfortunately relapsed, said to the PAYK correspondent: "I lost my family and everything I had, it's enough ... I want to work, get married and live happily...” This woman who confessed to being addicted to both opium and heroin addict, checked herself into the Women's Hospital for another attempt at rehabilitation. She said: “Like me, many other women want to return to their normal lives and join their families, but we are fighting against drug mafia who use vendors to distribute thousands of sachets of heroin and opium everywhere to everyone.”

Two out of three residential buildings in Kabul are illegally constructed.

PAYK, Center for Investigative Journalism in Afghanistan
Kabul, September 2017
The Afghan capital with a population of more than five million people has more than 240,000 illegal houses, more than 600 illegal highrise apartment buildings, and dozens of illegal townships.

PAYK’s investigations into the issue, which involved a scrutiny of data and official documents collected from the 22 districts of Kabul city, revealed that many of the properties that were illegally acquired includes residential houses, high-rise apartment buildings, and even whole townships. It was also revealed to belong to ordinary citizens, as well as both low and upper level officials from various governmental and non-governmental institutions. However, they all do not have any legal documents to back these constructions.
The construction of houses, townships and highrise apartment buildings haphazardly in Kabul during the past one and a half decade, has posed a huge problem for establishing a well-laid out plan for the city. In effect, Kabul has been turned into an uncontrolled city, where property owners do as they please, with no respect for the law.
The World Bank notes that present-day Kabul is structurally different from the city that it was about a decade ago, but the presence of illegally-constructed houses have nonetheless reduced poverty and the lack of access to shelter.



Findings:




. Two-thirds of all houses in Kabul city are illegally-constructed and are without legal backing documents.
. All houses in three districts of Kabul city do not have any legal backing documents at all.
. Most illegal townships are located in District 17.
. Most illegal highrise apartments are located in District one.
. Most illegal houses are located in District 7.
. Only District 21 did not provide any relevant data at all related to the subject of this report.
. Some of these illegal constructions, especially the townships and highrise apartment buildings are owned by people who either acquired the funds illegally or abused their power and status to do so.


Unplanned houses



Based on the data collected from the 22 districts of Kabul city, we found that out of the estimated 360,000 residential houses in the city, more than 240,000 houses are without a legal backing document, representing two-thirds of all houses.
PAYK’s analysis of the official documents received from Districts 13, 20, and 21 indicate that there are no houses at all with the right legal documents in these areas, making it the areas with the most concentration of illegal houses in the city.
Officials from Kabul’s districts admit that indeed most of the houses are without legal backing documents and are located in unplanned areas, grasslands, and in the mountain ranges of the city, and have continued to expand to the extent that it is now out of the control of the Kabul Municipality. However, many citizens, including even the owners of the illegal structures, have criticized the government for it’s inability to prevent the construction of illegal houses.
Fazlel Rahman, a resident of the unplanned area located in Khair-Khana Kotal of the 17th district of Kabul told PAYK:

"No illegal activities in this country can be done without the involvement of government officials...”
While he has a custom (unofficial) document for his residential house, he adds that obtaining a legal (official) document is too costly and time-consuming for them, and only those who can obtain legal documents because of access to intermediaries, relations in state institutions, or free time to visit these institutions for weeks on end, are able to do so.
But Abdul Jalil Soltani, spokesman for the Kabul Municipality, in a conversation with PAYK correspondent, denied charges of corruption and bribery regarding the involvement of employees and officials of the municipality, without evidence to back these claims up. He noted:
"During the past two years, we have destroyed more than one hundred unplanned and non-authorized residential houses in cooperation with Kabul Garrison, and this process continues."
Mr. Soltani added further that some of these unplanned houses are located in areas without the requisite social infrastructure including roads, schools, mosques, clinics and recreation centers. However, the Municipality is now planning to construct these in order to make their living conditions better.
A World Bank Study had categorized the documentation backing properties into three different kinds: Official, Customary, and Informal or unofficial documents. This means that other than acquiring the official documents legalizing the property, one can also obtain customary document, which are those signed by the representative (Wakil) and well-known people from the area (and if it this was arranged before 1979), then it is an acceptable document to show legal right to construct the property.
But data from the districts of Kabul show that at least half of the unplanned residential houses have unacceptable customary documents, and/or some do not have any documentation at all.
According to the World Bank data, unplanned houses make up at least 70% of the population in the capital, and 80% of Kabul residents live in unplanned areas. Although the escalation of this situation has brought difficulties to the people, and the disruption of government services, the World Bank nonetheless notes in its policy document on Kabul city, that this increase is as a result of deep poverty among residents and a general lack of access to shelter. It therefore called not only for the regulation of properties, but also emphasized the supply of public services in these areas.
However, an International Organization (HABITAT), which has started a digital registration of properties (both personal and public), in cooperation with the Kabul Municipality over a year ago, report of the resistance of some ordinary citizens and low-level government officials, as the main challenge that they face.
The program "City for All" includes land regulation, legalization of property documents, environmental rehabilitation and strengthening of urban services in the cities of the country. According to Habib Rahimi, Director of the program, they have been able to determine and integrate the houses in seven districts of Kabul city into the database, despite the challenges posed by the resistance of some residents and government officials in these areas. They attributed this resistance to mostly the unawareness of the program's goals, which makes them unwilling to submit information about their properties or their houses to the employees of the organization.
Mr. Rahimi said further that though these challenges were shared with the leadership of Kabul Municipality and other relevant government entities, they are yet to achieve the desired result from the measures taken so far.
The authorities of Kabul Municipality, in response to the problem announced a new strategy with a strong support from the government to enforce the law to ensure that fundamental reforms are being implemented in the capital.


Illegal highrise apartment buildings




PAYK findings show that out of the total of 1,927 highrise houses in 22 districts of Kabul, more than 620 houses were built without legal permits and not according to engineering standards either, with this trend alarmingly on the rise. Based on the data, districts 1, 4, 9, 12, 7, and 17th, have the most illegal highrise apartment buildings in the center of Kabul city, some of these highrise apartment buildings are under construction and their owners do not know anything about their obligations to answer and provide information about the requisite permits which allow them to do so.
Some officials of the said districts have named some people who do not only not have legal permission, but also have continued to build and operate illegally by using force, further violating the laws of the country.
Some of these highrise apartment buildings, which are under construction in the capital’s most central and busiest areas, also have caused concerns and received complaints from residents of the area. Massoud, a resident of District 4, whose house is surrounded by highrise apartment buildings, says:
"We even went to the district office to complain about these powerful people because they violate the privacy of our houses now, but the district office did not do anything ..."

Officials of District 4 also agree that they cannot do anything against these powerful people. Ahmed Fahim Masoumi, head of the district, told a PAYK correspondent that they have not been able to stop the work of some of these powerful people, even with the cooperation of the police.
Mr. Masoumi gave an example of an illegal construction in Parwan 3 area of District 4, which is allegedly supported by the secretary of the Ministry of Interior:
"We tried several times to prevent the continuation of the construction, but to no avail. The work still continues”.
However, the spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs denies that any officials of the ministry are supporting the construction or the so-called powerful people.
Many districts in Kabul have however refused to provide accurate data about the illegal constructions in their respective districts, or to disclose the identity of the offenders because they claim do not have any records to that effect. However, officials in District 4 confirmed that they know about the existence of at least 40 illegally constructed houses in the area, and have a list of the names of those owning these properties to back up their claims. This list was made available to PAYK. However, they also disclosed that they have received threats and were even assaulted by some of these owners, who are thought to be very powerful people.
PAYK’s attempts to follow up the investigations by contacting the persons listed in the document were not very successful since most of them were uncooperative, or even refused to speak to PAYK correspondents at all. One of these owners who refused to grant PAYK an interview remarked, “None of our construction projects are illegal, and we are not obliged to provide the covering documents or permits to every media person either…”
Interestingly, in an off the record conversation with the said correspondent, he admitted to paying a bribe at some government entities in order to commence the construction but maintained: “This however does not make the building illegal, if it were illegal, then why is the construction work still ongoing?”
The question about the status of these illegal houses and buildings should be answered by the leadership of Kabul Municipality, but the mayor of Kabul, Mr. Habibzai in an interview with a PAYK correspondent, attributed the haphazard construction within the city over the past one and a half decade to the actions of the former leading officials of the institution, who he claimed disregarded the issue. He declared:
"From now on, there will be no illegal construction in the city of Kabul, and all offenders, even if they resort to bulling, will face the full rigours of the law, in addition to their buildings being destroyed”.



Mr. Habibzai, Mayor of Kabul Municipality, acknowledges that the number of offenders in on the rise and the problem of illegal buildings in Kabul is indeed out of control, and a serious challenge not only to the rule of law, but also to implementing a sound urban development plan for the city, but was optimistic that this trend will soon come to an end.
This issue has also aroused the concern of some environmental and technical experts, as well as residents of the capital. Some engineers believe that, on the one hand, Kabul is vulnerable to severe earthquakes, and on the other, is susceptible to severe flooding in parts of the city in the event of even little rain, which brings the city to a standstill.
Kazim Homayun, an environment expert, says that the high influx of rural migrants into the cities mainly due to the lack of adequate social welfare in the villages, coupled with the unavailability of strict construction standards, and the interference in the duties of officials of the Municipality and the Ministry of Urban Planning, are among the factors and challenges that make Kabul an uncontrolled monster as far as illegal buildings are concerned. He concluded that the repercussions of this problem would be severe for all dwellers of the city.


Illegal townships




During the last decade, dozens of private townships have been constructed legally and illegally in the capital, but data from some districts of Kabul has reported that only 28 of these townships are deemed legal, with an outstanding number of 20 without the right without legal permits. Some other districts, despite receiving official letters and information request forms, refused to provide any information to support PAYK’s investigations. However, Abdullah Habibzai, the Mayor of Kabul, estimates that the total number of legal and illegal townships in the capital is almost 60.
Data shows that during last decade, the largest 13 illegal townships were built entirely in the 17th district of Kabul. The list of these townships and details of ownership is provided here:
This list also contains the names of some prominent civilian and military persons, as well as some top officials from the current government, and previous ones, commanders and jihadi leaders. Despite several attempts on our parts, we were unable to secure an interview with these listed persons, or to receive any answers from them at all.
Some persons related to the named officials, who were contacted by PAYK, however denied any involvement in the said illegal activities, in a telephone conversation with PAYK.
Hajji Zabiullah, who is named on the list of owners of illegal townships in District 17, in a telephone conversation with a PAYK correspondent of PAYK, said that there is no illegal township or building, and the municipality's charges in this regard are incorrect.
But Kabul Municipality officials recognize him as as one of the partners in the Saadat Township in Chamtala area, which is identified to have been built without legal permission.
While municipality officials are calling for the demolition and/or the regulation of these illegal townships, some of these township owners are adamant that they are licensed to exist, by Ministry of Urban Development and Housing.
Ramin, the marketing manager of Faisal Township in District 6, told reporters that though the township had submitted a request for a legal license from the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing in 2004, till date the process is still on-going.
Nonetheless, officials of the district consider the operation illegal, saying they do not have any legal documents in that regard from the Kabul Municipality.
The officials of the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing also accept the construction of arbitrary and illegal townships in Kabul but insist that since the beginning of the National Unity Government, no township have been approved for construction in the capital, but rather these are all from the previous regimes. Hence, after reviewing and scrutinizing these cases, those found culpable will be prosecuted according to the law.
Nilofar Sangar, spokesperson for the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, in response to the question of who is used force and bribery to build a township in Kabul and who are these powerful people? After a short silence, said: "I'm sorry."



Conclusion and solution



The city of Kabul during last one and a half decade has witnessed the illegal construction of thousands of residential houses, townships and highrise apartment buildings, and the continuation of this process has not only challenged the implementation of urban master plans and the establishment of a systematic plan of the capital but also incapacitated the Kabul Municipality and other government entities in preventing the construction of houses and townships illegally and arbitrarily.
Widespread corruption with the presence of powerful people inside and outside government entities, and the lack of coordination between the Kabul Municipality and the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing are the main causes of the growing expansion of arbitrary and illegal construction in the capital.
However, officials from the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing and Kabul Municipality promise to plan all the homes and destroy and revise illegal townships and highrise apartment buildings in the near future, but some environmental and engineering experts believe that if this promise is not implemented, life will be difficult for the population of about five million people in Kabul city, and it is still time for the authorities to pay attention to the welfare and employment in the rural areas of the country and to save the cities, especially the capital of the country from insecurity, pollution, and destruction.



Murder Cases of 27 Journalists in Afghanistan Goes Unaddressed

PAYK findings into the activities of the Joint Committee for Afghanistan Journalists and Media Security and Safety, show that over the past 16 years, not even one case of the murder of journalists have been addressed.
This investigative report will also reveal that, annually, on average, the Afghan journalism community has lost four of its members in the past 16 years in Afghanistan.
It shows that the Taliban are responsible for 30 of these murders of media persons, unknown persons are responsible for 29, and the government is responsible for three. Also, five other journalists have died as a result of traffic accidents.

Key Findings:
Over the past 16 years, only two cases of the murder of journalists in Afghanistan have been resolved.
Four other cases are currently under the investigation of the Joint Committee for Journalists and Media safety and Security, but the remaining 23 remain untouched.
Increase in violence in the country, lack of political will, and weakness of governments institutions are the main causes behind the lack of action in following up on these cases.

The statistics of journalists’ murders
Based on figures obtained from local media institutions from 2001 to the end of 2016, 68 national and international journalists and media workers have lost their lives in various terrorist, criminal, traffic and unknown incidents. This means that the Afghan journalists Community, annually on average, has lost at least four of its members.
Among these, there are 16 foreign journalists, 10 national media staff and 42 national reporters (journalists). According to the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU), the reporters, announcers, presenters, photographers, cameramen, editors and program directors of TV, Radio and print media are referred to as journalists or reporters and others who work in the media are called media employees.
The Taliban was found to have carried out 30 of the murders – according to Nai Media Watch – of national and international journalists and media staff in the past 16 years, and therefore has the first place on this list as the chief perpetrator of the violence against journalists. Among these, 10 people were killed in suicide attacks, 11 in bomb explosions and roadside mines, and 9 others were killed in targeted attacks. Members of the Joint Committee say handling these cases are impossible because of the lack of contacts with the Taliban.
After the Taliban, unidentified gunmen killed 29 journalists, with a slight difference, and therefore comes in second place on the list. According to Media support institutions in the country (including Nai), all these cases can be investigated and prosecuted because of the uncertainty about the actual perpetrators of the crime and the cause of death. Nai Media Watch believes that many of these cases are linked to journalism, but the main responsible persons have not been identified by the relevant security and judicial institutions.
Among this list of incidents over the 16 years, only one case is reported “unknown” due to lack of clarity about the location and status of the incident. This is the case of the death of Alistair McLeod, a New Zealander journalist who was killed mysteriously by unknown persons, on 28 August 2002 in the east of Kabul.
Government and foreign forces were also alleged to have been responsible for the killing of three journalists in separate military incidents. Sultan Monadi was killed on 3 October 2015 as a result of air strikes by foreign forces in Aliabad district of Kunduz province, and Zabihullah Pashtoonnyar was killed on 3 April 2014 in Kunduz provincial capital in a similar incident. Also, Anja Niedringhaus a German reporter for Associated Press was killed on 3 April 2014 by a police officer in Khost province.
Five Afghan journalists lost their lives in bloody traffic accidents on the highways of the country. Four journalists lost their lives in a passenger bus crash on Kabul-Kandahar highway. The time and location of the accident have not been determined. Also, Yama Ahmad Sherzad, a BBC reporter lost his life in an accident on 1 November 2016, while driving on the Doshi-Pul-e Khumri highway in Baghlan province.
Fahim Dashti, Executive Director of ANJU and a member of the joint committee, in an interview with PAYK said that in the past 16 years, nearly 700 cases of violence against journalists and employees of media in Afghanistan have been recorded, but only 68 cases were murder and rest of them were in the forms of violence such as threats, battery, arrest, injury, fire, and insults. However, after the review by the joint committee last year, this number was reduced to more than 400 cases of violence. It means that only cases related to past ten years are known to be prosecuted and other cases that are associated with the Taliban and before ten years are not included in the work of the joint committee.

Killings related to journalism
Journalists and Afghan media support institutions do not have exact figures of the murders of journalists who work in the media directly or related to the field. PAYK findings from data and information collected from the Afghan Journalists National Union (ANJU) and the Attorney General’s office show that at least 29 journalists have been killed by unidentified gunmen in the past 16 years, but the perpetrators of 23 cases have not been identified yet. bbb
Mr. Mujeeb Khalwatgar, the Chief Executive of Nai said that in many of these cases, the government instead of supporting and cooperating with the relevant authorities in the investigation, rather want to hide evidence that points to the perpetrators of these crimes.
Mr. Khalwatgar shared doubts about some of these murder cases, which occurred in the past one and a half decade and gave this example.
“The murder of Abdul Samad Rohani, the BBC journalist in Helmand is one of the such complicated cases, as he was killed by unidentified men while preparing an investigative report on drugs. But despite follow-up of local and central authorities, no clue was found.”
Brother of Samad Rohani in an interview with PAYK said the murder of his brother was relevant to his work with media and also complained about the neglect of local officials in the investigations.
Yaqoob Sharafat reporter of a local radio and television who was shot dead at a 50-meter distance from the Zabul Province Headquarters by unidentified men last year is another mysterious case. Mr. Khalwatgar believes that this murder is also related to his work in media, as three days prior to his death he had said that he has been threatened by Zabul provincials officials in a videotape.
Zakia Zaki, head of Radio Solh in Jabul-saraj is another example of these mysterious murders that are directly related to journalism. According to Mr. Khalwatgar, Ms. Zaki was murdered mysteriously in her bed at nighttime, but despite the arrest and eventual release of five people, the main killer was never identified.
Similarly, Shekiba Sanga Amaj, a Shamshad TV announcer who was killed by unidentified gunmen, and after the arrest and release of her father, it was determined to be honor killing. However, Nai Media Watch is resolute that her murder was related to her journalism work.
In summary, Palwasha Tokhi, Zabihullah Pashtoonyar, Zubair Khaksar and many others, were killed by unidentified gunmen in different regions of the country over the past one and a half decade, and most of these cases have not been solved for unknown reasons, or due to the non-cooperation of government officials. The cases of journalists’ murders by the Taliban are not prosecuted due to the lack of contact with these groups.


Inquiry and non – inquiry of the cases
A recent report by Attorney General, presented to the Security Council of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, of which PAYK obtained a copy revealed the conclusion of investigations into nine cases of violence against journalists, including six murders. However, from all of these, there was only one sentencing of a total five people to death and a maximum of twenty years imprisonment in connection with the case of Palwasha Tokhi, reporter of Radio Bayan in Balkh, and Sayed Hamed Noori, RTA journalist in Kabul, respectively. Nai and other media support organizations however found these rulings unsatisfactory.bbbb
The joint committee, as well as NJU were also unsatisfied with the overall performance of the intelligence and judicial agencies with regards to the investigation and prosecution of these cases.
Zabihullah Pashtoonyar, reporter of Radio Kaihan was killed as a result of air strikes by US forces on 3 October 2015 in the MSF hospital in the capital of Kunduz province, and local authorities in response to enquiries from the joint committee have stated that the case is yet to be investigated. .
Shamshad TV journalist Shekeba Sanga was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on 10th May 2007 in the fifth district in Kabul. Five years after the incident occurred, the primary court of Kabul city announced the decision, and two people including Shekeba’s father were sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in absentia, but the police have not yet managed to arrest these people.
RTA journalist Zubair Khaksar, was killed by unidentified gunmen on 29 January 2016 in Nangarhar. Three people were arrested by police in connection with the case in eastern Nangarhar province, but the family of Khaksar maintains that the arrested persons are innocent.
There is also the case of Sultan Mohammad Monadi, an interpreter, and Stephen Zell, a reporter of New York Times, who on 5 September 2009 had gone to the area of Jangal-e Rahmat Bai of Aliabad district, to cover the burned tankers by ISAF air bombardment, where they were by the Taliban. While Zell was rescued, Momadi was killed by his captors. However, because the area was considered unsafe, investigations were never carried out.
The case of the Sultan Muhammad Monai’s murder, which was included in this report of the Attorney General, not only faced with a strong criticism from media support organizations, but also attracted serious anger from Monadi’s family. According to Mr. Khalwatgar, the murder of Monadi is related to journalism because it happened when reporting on ISAF air strikes on oil tankers in Kunduz province, he was killed mysteriously and Stefan Zell his British colleague was rescued by Special Forces. Now, the Joint Committee for media and journalists security and safety in their last official meeting reported the case as follows:
Results of the investigation by the assigned delegation of the Ministry of Interior with a quote from Stephen, contrary to these, Taliban show that the murder of Momadi was committed by the Taliban. However, in contradiction, Yar Mohammad Yarmand, former head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Interior who also served as a harbinger delegation investigating the case, confirms that based on the findings of his research team, Sultan Monadi was shot dead by British Special Forces.
However, Jamshid Rasooli, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office in an interview with PAYK promised to send supporting documents backing the claim of the AG but a month has since elapsed and no such documents were received. He also did not respond to PAYK’s emails or phone calls.
The report has also aroused the anger of Monadi’s family. Osman Hamdard, his brother who also acts as the caretaker of the family, shared their frustration during an interview with PAYK about the many years of tiredness and fruitless litigation: “We just wanted justice, and we are still waiting for it.”bbbbbb
More than seven years has passed since the quest to find justice for Monadi, but according to Mr. Khalwatgar, in addition to sending an open letter to the embassy and the State Department of Great Britain, no clues have been found. PAYK’s attempts to contact the Embassy of Great Britain in Kabul were also unsuccessful.
Tawab Ghorzang, spokesperson for the Security Council and a member of the joint committee, in a telephone conversation with PAYK, said about the progress on the cases, “If there is any protest against the final decision of the cases of violence against journalists, it should be registered, and it will come to the attention of the judicial institutions of the country which are also part of the committee, for redress”.

Conclusion
The findings of PAYK from data and information collected from various sources including media support organizations such as Nai, and the judiciary, not only shows an increase in violence (including murder) against journalists, but also proves that despite the commitment and establishment of the Joint Committee to address the issue of violence against journalists, even their membership from the media still believe that some government officials are reluctant to seek justice and are not valuing freedom of speech in the country. This, to them, is the greatest cause of the failure in addressing cases of violence against journalists. Although statistics from official sources indicate that by creating this joint committee for security and safety of journalists and media in Afghanistan – headed by the second Vice President – more than 400 cases of violence against journalists, including (murder, injury, arrest, battery, abduct, humiliate and insult) were submitted to the relevant authorities (Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Attorney General’s Office, and Supreme Court), only six cases of murder and three cases of violence were investigated by the government and the rest have remained unsolved.
The Security Council and the Attorney General Office who are the government representatives on the committee spoke about adherence to the government’s commitment to support the media and freedom of expression in the country and ensure that with the exception of cases that took place several years ago, there’s no excuse not to pursue and investigate cases of violence against journalists in the country.
Some members of the Joint Committee, in a reaction to the cynicism and reluctance of some government officials to pursue cases of violence against journalists, have warned that if government continues in its negligence and obstructions, they will resign from their the committee. But a number of other members of the media groups in the country are hoping that with the active participation and honest work of the Joint Committee none of the cases of violence against journalists will be left unsolved.
Though media support organizations in the country spoke about being hopeful, recently the global network of 108 organizations defending freedom of expression in the world under the name “IFEX” has also sent an open letter to the leaders of the National Unity Government, the Ministry of Information and Culture and representatives of the Afghan Government in UNESCO, asking the Afghan government to work on the status of cases of murder of journalists in the country and make it clear.
Beside this, internally there is a growing demand by journalists and media organizations for justice in this regard. Journalists and media employees increasingly feel insecure as the cycle of violence in the country is perpetually peaking. There is a fear of the normalization of violence against journalists if these cases are not prosecuted and the perpetrators are not brought to justice. That could lead to more violence which could result in more journalists leaving the field or fleeing the country

Why Has the Electoral Reforms Not Being Fully Implemented?

PAYK Center for Investigative Journalism has found that, after two years, only one recommendation from among eleven put forward by the Electoral Reform Commission has been implemented in full so far, and that is to change the membership of the Elections Commission.
Considering this, is it possible that the Afghanistan election process will regain the confidence of the people?

Kabul, Afghanistan
March 2017
The conflicts after the 2014 Presidential election severely damaged the credibility of electoral institutions in Afghanistan, and the validity of the elections results. Further to this, there were allegations of fraud involving millions of ballots cast. A brief look at the last three elections in Afghanistan shows that that distrust with the electoral institutions has always been at the center of electoral controversy and the dissatisfaction on the part of candidates. For example,
The 2009 presidential election did not have a winner after the first round, and the only contender to Hamid Karzai for the second round, Abdullah Abdullah withdrew his candidacy citing lack of confidence in the electoral commission, and Mr. Karzai was declared president;
The 2010 parliamentary elections also ended up in court to resolve complaints; and
The second round of the 2014 presidential elections also ended in an impasse leading to both sides signing an agreement to form a national unity government (NUG);
The view is that, it was only the timely intervention of the US government in mediating between the disputing factions and brokering the NUG deal that prevented the conflict from escalating into a civil war. However, one of the requirements under this deal was the NUG implements fundamental reforms in the legislative and institutional electoral processes.
“In order to ensure that future elections will have full credibility in Afghanistan, the Afghan Electoral System (legislation and institutions) needs fundamental changes. The President with regard to Article 7 of the political framework, immediately after the establishment of the National Unity Government, established a special commission to reform the Electoral System in Afghanistan. Members of the Special Commission are appointed by an agreement between the President and the Chief Executive Officer. The Special Commission had to report on its progress to the President, CEO and Cabinet, who review the suggestions made by the Commission and take the necessary measures to comply to them.” – Article 5, Reform of the Electoral System, NUG Agreement, Signed September 21, 2014
But members of the Electoral Reform Commission and representatives of Afghan election monitoring bodies believe that the reform process has not been transparent and has not restored the lost confidence. The reforms include preparing a complete voter registration list within the first two years, amending the requirements for parliamentary candidates, changing the electoral system from a single non-transferable vote to parallel voting, and the establishment of a Transparency Committee. They believe that, not only did the NUG not meet any of these expectations, but they also deemed the process of recruiting new members of the Electoral Commissions to be non-transparent.

Though the stipulation in the agreement was for the establishment of the reform commission immediately after the formation of the NUG, this commission was not in place until March 23, 2014 when the leaders of government finally agreed on the determination of its members. They were: Shah Sultan Akefi, as President, Sediqullah Tawhidi as vice president, Ali Amiri, Abdul Qadeer Karyab, Bashir Farooq, Fayzullah Zaki, Saleh Mohammad Registani, Kawoon Kakar, Sabrina Saqib, Gul Ahmad Madadzai, Azizullah Rafiyee, Abdul Majeed Ghanizada Deputy Minister of Ministry of Justice and Yamato Tadamychy, UN Representative.
After consultations with both local and international stakeholders – experts, civil society activists etc., the commission proposed its first package of reforms to the government five months later.
The question then remains – to what extent have these set of recommendations been implemented by the leaders of the NUG? And are they enough to repair the damaged credibility of the electoral commission and the electoral process?
Sediqullah Tawhidi, vice president of the commission said to PAYK that out of the 11 initial recommendations, the president accepted seven, and four were returned to the commission for review.
Mr. Tawhidi: “Amending the electoral system including polling stations, preparing voters’ lists based on electronic identification cards (Tazkiras), and establishing a Transparency Committee (Election Special Court within the Supreme Court), are the items that after the review of Electoral Reform Commission, were included in a second package of proposals presented to the president.”
Table detailing the implementation status of all the 11 proposed recommendations:
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“Without the full implementation of this proposal, the Afghan people will not have the experience a truly transparent and fair election in future.” Sediqullah Tawhidi, Vice president, Elections Reform Commission
Two and a half years into the NUG administration of President Ghani and CEO Abdullah, only one reform out of the 11 – that is, the replacement of commissioners in the Election Commission has been put into practice.
Interestingly, while CEO Abdullah had stated that “the precondition for our participation in the NUG is the reform of the electoral system”, but his current stance is noticeably softer. Despite accepting that no necessary reform has been fulfilled for the conduct of elections as at yet, his response to PAYK’s enquiries is that, while all eleven recommendations are applicable, some will be fulfilled in the short-term and some even in the long-term.
Jawed Faisal spokesman of CEO Abdullah: “The reforms that took place in the short-term will help the improvement of the election, but in general the eleven suggestions for the reform of the electoral system is possible in long-term and the government is determined to implement it.”
Looking at the president’s focus on specifying a date for the parliamentary elections for next year, one can assume that all the proposed amendments will definitely not be implemented before that date.

Dissatisfaction with the selection of members of the commission
Even the one recommendation that was actually implemented is not without problems. In the latest selection, Mr. Imam Muhammad Warymach, the secretary of Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, the former head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) was appointed as the new Head of the Secretariat of the Commission. Reports suggest that this appointment, and the relocation of Mr. Zabihullah Wagaray, Head of the election commission of Paktya province to Nangarhar province, is a clear example of an extrajudicial execution by the IEC.
Official documents of the IEC indicate that this amendment took place without the agreement of the IEC secretariat and in the absence of a competitive process – as required under Article 4 of Electoral Law.
According to Elections Watchdog Afghanistan (EWA), even the establishment of the selection committee was not based on the commission’s proposals, but rather a plan connived by government. EWA boss Mr. Spinghar, alleged that some candidates were privy to the questions prior to the interviews, and some were asked very unprofessional questions in order to disqualify them.
Further, ne noted that the dissolution of two committees and establishment of a third selection committee by the government and the secretariat of the Office of the President, is an indication of government involvement and influence in the elections process and the electoral system reform.
Yusuf Rashid, a member of the committee, however rejected any claim of having an affiliation with the government and said that the selection of individuals was made based purely on standards stipulated in the Elections Law – experience, expertise, age, ethnicity and gender, and by receiving the highest score in all these areas. He asserted further that out of the over 700 applications, some 400 were rejected outright for not being eligible according to the law. The 21 with the top scores in all these indicators were the ones who were eventually introduced to the President. The President then appointed seven out of these, including two women to the IEC, and five others to the Election Complaints Commission (ECC).4BD3B49B-A139-4CED-AC7B-19BCD4A276BC_w650_r1_s
Mr. Rashid claims that objections to the constitution of these committees by electoral Institutions and civil society activists, are merely based on personal, ethnic, and political interests.
Nonetheless, the Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA) is adamant that many legal criteria have been violated by the Selection Committee in the selection process, claiming that even the representative of civil society on this committee had some sort of affiliation with the government, hence bending to its will.
“The Selection Committee, in addition to hiding the list of candidates, also took decisions in secret, away from election observers and the media – a clear indication of misconduct.” – TEFA president Mohammad Naeem Ayubzada

Inadequate Preparation on the Part of Elections Commissions
While more than three months have passed since Elections Commissions assumed work, some CSOs are speaking out about the lack of adequate preparation by these commission on the eve of parliamentary elections next year.
EWA boss Jandad Spinghar says: “There is no evidence of a clear plan in place to indicate how the reforms will be implemented and the priority areas towards the oncoming elections.” This creates valid concerns and doubts that the Afghan government will ensure due diligence in conducting the elections.
The officials of the Elections Commissions however disagree. They say the reforms will gradually be implemented and reiterated confidence in these institutions. They claim that the current commissions will work more transparently, and are more experienced than previous commissions.
Secretary and spokesman for the IEC, Abdul Badi Sayad, says that discussions are ongoing right now between the commission and international experts about the credibility offered by an electronic voting system. While he agrees that the electronic system will prevent fraud and reduce costs, he maintains that it is nonetheless impractical given the challenges of electronic identification cards (Tazkiras), revocation of old voting cards, and the time required to compile the voters register, causing inevitable delays to conducting the parliamentary elections. Election_0-300x201
Mr. Sayad highlighted the issue of some 200 seats being vacant in Elections Commissions across the country, noting that these are all reasons for its under functioning state, though some restructuring has taken place.
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Despite this, activists and election observers maintain that this is still not enough in adequately preparing for the parliamentary elections. Mr. Spinghar believes that when there are irregularities and delays in implementing the reforms, the process and the entire electoral system comes under the influence and control of certain individuals and political groups, jeopardizing the chances of a truly credible elections process.
ECC commissioner and spokesperson Alireza Rohani, on the other hand asserts that they are able to achieve the goal of legality, transparency and fairness in the electoral process. He also believes, in contradiction of the ninth reform recommendation, that the detection and investigation of electoral offenses and its referral to judicial authorities is the authority and responsibility of the ECC who he maintains has the capacity to do so, so there is no need to establish an electoral tribunal.
Electoral Reform Commission vice president Tawhidi however disagrees, saying: “As long as any of these proposed items is impractical, we will not have transparency and fairness in the upcoming election, and once again Afghan people will be witness to a controversial election. As long as electoral fraud is not considered “crime” and the fraudulent is not punished, it is hard to prevent it.”


Contradictory views in relation to the reform of the electoral system
Some members of the House of Representatives (Wolesi Jirga) strongly emphasize as their priorities, transparency and fundamental reforms in the election system, issuance of electronic identification cards (Tazkiras) and holding parliamentary elections on a planned date.
“The two things that are of utmost importance in the reform of the electoral system is, the assurance of overall security, and the issuance of electronic identification cards (Tazkiras). These will be the conditions of a fair and transparent election in the country” – Abdul Wudood Payman, representative of Kunduz province, Wolesi Jirga

Abdul Satar Khawasi, the representative of Parwan province, and also a contender for the upcoming parliamentary elections, told PAYK that he expects a strict adherence to holding the elections on the specified date. Some of his colleagues however believe that fundamental reforms in a period less than a year is impossible and the parliamentary elections should be held concurrently with the presidential elections scheduled for 2019.

Paktika representative Najia Babakarkhel also noted her dissatisfaction with the whole process, which she alleges was managed by government circles, despite Yusuf Rashid, a member of the committee, rejecting the assertion of any interference of the government.
Civil society largely agrees with the representatives. EWA boss Jandad Spinghar, among other things criticized the formation of the Electoral Commissions, noting that with the exception of one, all lack even two years of work experience.
Fahim Dashti, the chief executive of the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) says his membership in the committee was rejected by some high-ranking members of government from the presidential palace. He named specifically the National Security Adviser Mr. Hanif Atmar, Minister of Finance Mr. Eklil Hakimi and Senior Adviser to the President Mr. Akram Khpalwak, and says:
“They are the those who have circled the President and have extensive influence on the environment and want to have the control over the election in future.”
Attempts by PAYK investigators to get responses from Mr. Hanif Atmar and Mr. Hakimi were futile, but Mr. Khpalwak, in a telephone call said, that in the absence of any valid evidence of his involvement in the elections affairs and work of selection committee, it is a baseless charge.
Claims of the interference or the non-neutrality of government in the matters of electoral system reform are not limited to these assertions. One applicant for a seat on commission who wishes to remain anonymous revealed that the call for applications released by the selections committee came from an email address with the domain name @ashrafghani.af. He asks, “while it was said that the administrative office will carry out the issues related to the Selection Committee, why was it necessary for this institution to use the personal website of the President as a domain name in work of this nature?
He concluded, “These emails prove that the process of reform of the electoral system and selection of individuals for commissions are managed by the government and due to this, the right people are unable to find their way into these seats.”

Views from the International Community
One of the basic conditions of continuing international support for the Afghan elections is a reform of the system. Many civil society activists believe, that the main reason for the establishment of the reforms commission is as a result of pressures from the international community. They also believe that without the support of this community, it is impossible for the elections to be held, since reports estimated that the 2014 elections cost some 230 million dollars, and the three rounds of presidential and provincial council elections and two parliamentary elections over the past 15 years, cost more than a billion dollars in total.
The office of the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) refused to give comments to PAYK, saying, “management and accountability for the reform process and the elections is the responsibility of the Afghan government and we do not comment on such issues.”; though UNAMA had a representative on the reforms commission.
Likewise, though the US and UK missions in Afghanistan are among the greatest contributors of financial and technical support to the Afghan elections, their embassy representatives were unwilling to comment on this.
Only the European Union responded, confirming concerns of some political leaders about the capacity of electoral commissions, the independence and impartiality of the elections, and hence peace and democracy in Afghanistan. The body believes that having a credible election requires a strong commitment of political leaders, in particular the joint leadership of the President, the CEO and the National Assembly.
The failure of the Afghan government in the reform of the electoral system was noted in a report by the Joint Assessment Mission of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and United State Institute of Peace (USIP) in November 2016, where it was observed that the NUG has lost the opportunities for fundamental reforms in the electoral system, because of the delay in the establishment of the commission for reform of the electoral system and disregard for the Commission’s proposal.
It was mentioned that while the selection processes of the IEC and IECC were transparent and professional, there were some valid concerns about the experience and qualification of some of the new members of these commissions.

The Afghan Populace is Wary
After the collapse of the Taliban regime and with beginning of the democratic process in Afghanistan, the elections can be counted as a significant development over the past 15 years. The Afghan people embraced the elections, participating fully, sometimes despite threats to their personal safety. However, with widespread controversy and allegations of corruption, it appears the interest of the people have waned somewhat. Despite the great strides that have been made in conducting elections over the past 15 years, it appears that the basic structure of elections have not been established in Afghanistan, such that the people can trust on it and be optimistic about the future.
There is both optimism and concerns about the reform of the electoral system, and most people believe that due to the interference by some government officials and political groups, coupled with security and technical challenges, the parliamentary elections will not be held at the specified time – whether it is autumn this year or spring next year.
FEFA believes that the upcoming elections can only go two ways. One, it will be acceptable to majority of the people, and two, it will more controversial than ever, and the worst in the history of the country.
Ms. Babakarkhel, Paktika province representative in Wolesi Jirga, sums up the views of the people perfectly, “dramatic reform cannot regain even one percentage of the lost confidence of the people in the elections

Huge losses at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum due to Inefficiency and Corruption

The previous two ministers, 46 employees and many contractor companies have been found to be responsible for the losses at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum
The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum is the governmental body responsible for the extractives and natural resource industry of Afghanistan. This ministry is tasked with ensuring that as much income is generated from this significant sector as possible, to support the national budget. However, due to rampant bad management within the leadership of the ministry, even the debt owed by mines contractors goes uncollected.
A survey of Afghanistan by the United States Geological Survey revealed that the country’s rich mineral deposits of oil, gasoline, gemstones, copper, iron, gold, should fetch an estimate of more than 1 trillion USD revenue in total from only the copper, gold, iron and lithium deposits – a substantial income for Afghanistan.
However, PAYK Investigative Journalism Center has found that the Ministry collected and deposited in the state treasury less than 7% of the debt owed by mines contractors.

Key findings:
More than 90% of debt owed from individuals, businesses and contractors over the past three years has not been collected till now.
Out of the more than 58 million USD total debt, only about 7.3 million USD is recoverable, and the rest is considered bad debt.
Misuse of funds for personal needs by former ministers, overpayment in salaries to certain employees, non-collection of revenue, land rent and fines from contractors, and the failure of the contractor for Amu Darya Basin project to produce the quota of hydrocarbons, has all caused the huge loss to the treasury of the Afghan government in the past three years;

The Debtors of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum
The findings of this report show that the former Ministers of Mines and Petroleum, a number of employees and some companies and mining contractors have not paid their debts of several years into the treasury of government yet.
Some hundred of cases of debtors were listed in a Supreme Audit Office report of 1393 obtained by PAYK.
“If the contractor fails to pay the required amount of money according to the law or provisions of this contract, including the price of hydrocarbon in the time specified by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum; The Ministry has the right to terminate its contract.” – Article 25, first clause of contract

The largest of these losses is of more than 45 million USD due in royalties from the Amu Darya Basin’s hydrocarbon production project. The contracting companies on the project – CNP and CIW – have failed to produce the estimated 3.9 million barrels of hydrocarbon within the first three years, as indicated in the contract.Doc.2
Some officials of the Supreme Audit Office (SAO) who responded to enquiries from PAYK, said more than 7.9 million USD worth of liabilities have not been recovered, and therefore the contracts of the affected companies under the Amu Darya Basin hydrocarbon project should be terminated accordingly.
However, after more than three years of failure on the part of the local and Chinese companies CNP and CIW to fulfill the terms of contract, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum reported their suspension three months ago, but made no comments about the termination of the contracts or the recovery of debts.
PAYK’s efforts to get the reactions from these companies were unsuccessful. For example, the contact details provided on the website CIW, were found to be wrong. However, some other companies when contacted disputed or denied these assertions. Companies such as Afghan Coal, Afghan Cement – some of the biggest debtors to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum claim that they do not owe any money.
Islamuddin Ahmadi, the Finance and Admin director of Afghan Cement Company, backed by documents provided to PAYK maintained, that in accordance with the decision of the primary business court of Kabul, they are not supposed to pay any rent for the use of land which is unrelated to their core work, and called on the Ministry to review the contract. Nonetheless, SAO maintained in a written submission to PAYK, that more than 3.9 million USD from the rent of the land is recoverable from Afghan Coal and Afghan Cement companies.
Ms. Shahla Farid, a lawyer who offered her views on the issue, said that if the SAO and the Ministry have documentary evidence, which shows that the Afghan Coal and Afghan Cement companies must pay the rent of the land, they should submit this to the court, otherwise the court’s decision is binding.

Liability of the former ministers
The misuse of funds for personal needs by some former Ministers of Mines and Petroleum, worth more than 58.7 thousand USD from the regular budget of the Ministry is another reason for the losses to government revenue – and amount which according to SAO reports, is still outstanding.
“No person shall, without lawful authority, under the name of authorized official or official positions, own or receive public properties, including state-owned property.” Article 10, paragraph 2 of the Financial Management and Public Expenditure Law.

Based on the findings of this report, Mohammad Akbar Barekzai and Wahidullah Shahrani, the former Ministers of in question, have spent not less than 36.6 thousand USD and more than 14.6 thousand USD respectively from the regular budget of the Ministry for their personal needs, such as purchase of kitchenware and construction of concrete walls for their residential houses. SAO says the purchase of goods from the regular budget of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum for personal use of former Ministers are contrary to the Financial Management and Public Expenditure law.
Some officials at the Ministry, when contacted refused to speak with PAYK on the grounds that they did not have authorization to do so. But Zabihullah Sarwari, spokesperson of the Ministry, who is authorized to do so, only responded that “Former ministers must respond in this regard.”
Wahidullah Shahrani, one of the named former ministers, in a telephone call to PAYK expressed ignorance about the purchase of 96 items worth more than 17.6 thousands USD for his residential house, claiming that he knew nothing about the issue and directed PAYK reporters to the head of Finance and Administration instead, and thereafter ignored all calls and written correspondence.
Mohammad Akbar Barekzai, the other former minister in question, maintained that the SAO’s report is incorrect but admitted that some concrete walls and barbed wire are still available in his house.
Mr. Barekzai says: “I have not asked anyone to install concrete barriers/walls and barbed wire in my house and no one to date has asked me what has happened to these barriers and barbed wire …”
Apart from these two, other former high-ranking officials are among the list of debtors, with items including overpayment of allowances, in particular travel.

Overpayment of employee salaries
According to the SAO report, more than 33.7 thousand USD were overpaid in the monthly salaries of some 46 contract staff in years 1391 to 1393 (of the Afghan calendar).
The employees, who were named in the report received between 70 USD to 140 USD in their monthly salaries, in contravention of the regulations governing the implementation of the budget.

The report revealed that poor supervision and internal control systems in the interpretation of Article 36 of the Law for the implementation of the budget, are the main causes for this overpayment.
“According to the Decree No. 45 of the President and pursuant to the deficit in the budget, the monthly salaries of all contract employees, if not exceed the ceiling of 50 thousand AFN, shall decrease to 10%. Also, the salaries of the project should not exceed the ceiling of 250 AFN per month.” – Article 36, Law on the implementation of budget.

The SAO report also established that the answer provided by the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum about the inaction on the deduction of 10 percent of the salaries of its employees, in excess of 734 USD, was not acceptable because it was not backed by official document from the Ministry of Finance, allowing them to do so.

Arrears of warehouse keepers and difference in retail purchases
More findings from the report showed that in addition to all these losses listed above, there were additional losses accrued due to the the differences in the prices the Ministry paid for items for the official use, and the actual prices on the market, as well as some arrears from mismanagement by the Ministry’s warehouse keepers.
The SAO requires that, goods that cost more than 7339 USD per year, such as paper, printers, tea and coffee, and vehicles and machine parts, should be provided through supply contracts in order to ensure transparency in the procurement process. However, this was not complied with.
However, officials of the Ministry, responding to these allegations of differences in retail prices between what is available on the market and what they purchased, maintained that the procurement was done according to the law. According to Mr. Sarwari, spokesperson for the Ministry, the difference in prices was mostly attributed to having to make hasty purchases, but the process was not illegal.
According to the report, the Ministry in the in 1393 alone, processed more than 400 retail purchase worth 293,586 USD. Three times in that year, a total of 17.6 thousand USD AFN was spent towards the purchase of tea and chocolate.
In addition to this, the SAO also reported to PAYK, the cases of four warehouse keepers of the Ministry, but without naming them. Officials of the Ministry admitted to these arrears by the four in question, but maintained that the debt is recoverable because each of these keepers had large guarantees for these arrears.

Acquisition of debts
Only 600,000 USD from the total liabilities due to the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum have been deposited in the State treasury in the past three years, which shows an acquisition rate of only 7%.
While all evidence obtained show a total of more than 4 billion AFN owed to the state treasury, the SAO, in a written communication obtained by PAYK, indicated that only about 540 million AFN is obtainable from the debtors of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum – the rest of it is considered lost revenue.
Further, it was revealed that only eight contractors and one employee of the Ministry have paid part of their debts and the exact figure is over 600,000 USD 41.2 million AFN. In effect, from 1393 to date, only 7% of the total due amount was deposited into the state treasury.
The spokesperson for the Ministry mentioned the creation of a joint commission with the composition of officials from the Ministries of Finance, and of Mines and Petroleum aimed at recovering these arrears, but he could not say anything about what was the status of this commission and its work.
Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) has also emphasized the creation of a joint mechanism for the on-time collection of revenue from contracting companies and sharing its information with the public. But Asadullah Zemarai, Program Manager of IWA says performances of officials of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum in the collection of revenue from individuals and contractors remains poor, noting: “The failure of the government in monitoring and managing mines will result in a dangerous crisis.”

Factors of loss and failure
SAO believes that weak management and monitoring in many financial and technical aspects and contracts of development projects in this Ministry have caused huge losses to government revenue.
The failure of contracted companies to meet anticipated production ceilings, and the inability of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum to collect of revenues from contracting companies are other factors that according to the SAO report has brought huge losses to government revenue, in the past three years.
IWA believes, from its 10 years of experience in the country, that the lack of security in many parts of the country, and the inability to control powerful local individuals and senior officials presiding over the mines in most parts of the country, are the main causes of the failure of the government to invest properly and have a proper and transparent management system.
IWA’s Zemarai, without naming anyone, said to PAYK, that personal relations and political influences are the main reasons why these companies and mining contractors, remain protected against the law, despite contravening the regulations and provisions of their respective contracts. Directorate of Cadaster and Audit Departments of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, which are responsible for the assessment and collection of revenues such as royalties, fines, and land rent, in many cases, failed to fulfill their responsibilities properly. However, officials from these departments could not speak to PAYK, as they were not authorized to do so.
One official, who did, on the condition of anonymity said:
“With the establishment of the Department of Petroleum in 1392, between 70 and 80 contract employees were recruited with enormous monthly salaries of $20,000 to $30,000 set by the Minister. These employees, however did nothing all year, which constitutes a major loss to the government – but nobody has been questioned yet.”
The official added that though he tried many times to prevent illegal contracts and illegal works in some functions and leadership of the Ministry, his efforts did not yield any results, and he rather suffered personal losses, though he did not elaborate on what these were.
Conclusions and solutions
The 58.7 million USD that was lost to the state treasury by actions at the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum, is the only part of the SAO’s 97-page report that was researched for this story – which seeks to question and challenge the system of governance and government leaders.
The above findings, which show a debt recovery rate of only 7% leads us to question exactly what will be the fate of the country’s mining industry given the governments track record on stemming corruption and improving overall governance of state assets. Has the realization of revenue from mining totally failed? Will the sector be completely destroyed, or will it ever be self-sufficient?
IWA believes that the law and regulations on mines must also provide for have penalties for those individuals and companies who act illegally, or do not pay royalties, rent, taxes and fines, to ensure there are no more losses of revenue to irresponsible individuals or groups, so that Afghanistan will not become a second Congo

THE CASE OF FARKHUNDA AND THE FAILURE OF JUSTICE

On the 19th of March 2015 (1393) Farkhunda Malikzada was brutally killed at the hands of an angry mob that accused her of burning the Holy Quran. With no evidence to support the accusation, she was declared innocent of the accused crime by the Courts. Meanwhile, 49 people were arrested and charged for their involvement in the killing, although some of the main perpetrators are yet to be arrested. The cause of death remains unclear and a final decision on this case is yet to be reached by the Supreme Court of Afghanistan. As the incident approaches its second anniversary, PAYK questions the response and capacity of Afghanistan’s legal and judicial institutions to deliver justice and uphold the rule of law.
FALSE ACCUSATION AND MOB OUTRAGE
۲۷-year-old Farkhunda was at the shrine of Shah-e du Shmashera in Kabul on Thursday, 19 March 2015, when an argument erupted and she was accused of burning the Holy Quran. The verbal accusations grew louder and more aggressive, as mobile phone footage of the incident shows, with Farkhunda denying them and arguing back, until the crowd turned violent and began to attack her – punching her and hitting her with wooden and iron objects and stones. 142691719330
The crime she was accused of is a serious one. According to Mufti Shams Rahman Frotan, a member of the National Council of Clerics in Afghanistan “Anyone who insults the Quran, either by speech or by writing or by physical action, this person has committed apostasy according to Islamic law. The ruling of Islamic law in this regard is that this person should be given three days for the repenting of his deeds and according to the law if the person does not repent in this period, he will be punished according to the law”. No one actually saw Farkhunda burn the Holy Quran and she was eventually declared innocent of this crime. However, as Mufti Shams Rahman Frotan says, ” even if the Holy Quran was burned by Farkhunda in the public, people do not have the right to insult her and beat her and drumhead court-martial is forbidden and should not have happened, people should instead have put her into the hands of the state, to be punished by the law and Islamic Sharia. ”
But the people did take matters into their own hands, continuing to beat and torture her for nearly three hours before she was killed. Why is it that the Afghan police failed to protect and save her life? Video footage shows police presence at the early stages of the incident, with police attempting to disperse the crowds by firing into the air. But as the mob of angry men grew more and more violent, the police seemed to give up, allowing the situation to get out of control.
POLICE PROTECTION DENIED
The fact-finding commission appointed by the government to look into the incident learned that three policemen who were on duty at the nearby Afghan Turk High School arrived at the scene within moments and held back some of the crowd. Five other police officers were sent from the PD 2 Police station to bring the situation under control. Other high ranking police officers and the Rapid Response Unit were also contacted. But after nearly three hours, the Police were not able to prevent the crowd from dragging Farkhunda onto the bed of the dried out Kabul river and set her on fire. Shahla Farid, a member of the fact finding commission believes there are two main reasons behind the behavior of the Police: “ One reason is that they blamed her for the burning of the Holy Quran which they consider a very serious, even though it was a baseless accusation that spread like a rumour. The other is that the National Police simply did not know the law, the rights of citizens or the professional behavior that was required of them.”
Reports of both the Commission, and the Afghan Independent Bar Association indicate that the delay in identifying and arresting the suspects by the Police has resulted in the main perpetrators living free either in the country or elsewhere. Two days after the incident, officials of the Ministry of Interior told the media that 18 police officers, including the head of PD 2 Police Station, had been suspended pending investigation. However, none of these individuals are in police custody today. Latifa Sultani, the head of women’s rights at the Human Rights Commission has described the behaviour of the Police as evident in the scenes of the incident captured on video as “the police, instead of saving Farkhunda, took the role of spectator while her murder took place in their presence.” PAYK was unable to hear the views of the Kabul Chief of Police, despite several attempts to do so, as the “Commander Latifa Sultanidoes not have time for interviews on this subject.” It appears that even the most senior law enforcement officers are unaware of the fundamental and universal principle of innocent until proven guilty, even though it is also enshrined in Afghan law. Farkhunda’s family, defense lawyers, civil society activists, the Human Rights Commission and the members of the fact finding Commission strongly believe that police negligence was the cause of her death at the hands of an angry mob. Furthermore, Farkhunda’s family claims that the Chief of Police advised them to tell people that their daughter suffered from a ‘mental illness’ and leave Kabul before the angry public also attacked them.
DIVERTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE
The consequences of police inaction was further compounded by the Attorney General’s Office which failed to act in accordance with Articles 19 and 25 of the Criminal Procedure Code in identifying the people accused of the Farkhunda’s murder case. In particular, the non-use of advanced technology to identify the accused persons on the videotapes, relying only on the statements made by the suspects. According to the law, the assigned prosecutors are obliged to visit the place of the incident to question local people eyewitnesses – this did not happen.
Further violations on the part of the AG’s office include failure of the follow-up prosecutor to file an objection regarding the change to the charge sheet of the accused persons by the Appeals Court – the charge of the civilian accused of violating Article 395 of the Criminal Procedure Code was changed to Article 396, and the charge of the security personnel of violating Article 42 of the Military Criminal Law was changed to Article 43. Article 51 of the Criminal Procedure Code was also violated in that the prosecutors did not request for a forensic clarification about the actual cause of Farkhunda’s death.
And finally, article 149 of the Afghan Criminal Procedure Code requires the AG’s office to complete the investigation of crimes and criminal litigation within 10 days for an obscenity, 27 for a misdemeanor, and 75 days for a felony. 22 months later, Farkhunda’s murder case investigation still has not been completed.
FORENSIC INACTION
Forensic officials submission to the Criminal Investigation Department of Kabul Police Headquarters show that the physical examination of the body of Farkhunda was performed on March 19, 2015, with the following results: “Traumatic shock most likely has caused her death and after the death, the deceased’s body was set ablaze. Due to the burn progress and disposed of primary changes in the dead body, it not possible to express any opinion about the duration of the death.” Slide1
But defense lawyers of Farkhunda’s family maintained that the conduct of the forensic experts was unprofessional, and they found various possibilities of contradiction in the forensic results. In addition, the physical examination took place in the absence of the police and prosecutors. Mrs. Rahel, speaking on behalf of her client Khalida, sister of Farkhunda, revealed that the body remained in the corridor of the forensic building for two days, which is likely to skew the results. Finding the exact cause/time of death is however crucial in determining the punishment that each of the perpetrators of the murder merit. Despite this obvious flaw in the forensic interpretation, the assigned prosecutor is yet to ask for a clarification in this regard.
Mr. Dell Aqa Mahboobi, the deputy head of forensic services department defended histeb-e-adli department’s conduct. However, he was not able provide us any documentation of the findings, citing confidentiality issues. What is clear however, is that the forensic failed to identify the cause of the death. This ambiguity led to the failure to recognize the main culprit of the murder, causing problems with the verdict that was delivered. Did the beatings cause the death, or driving the car over her body, or slamming a large stone on her head, or setting her ablaze? Who delivered the fatal blow/action? These questions remain unanswered.
COURT VIOLATIONS OF AFGHAN LAWS
On May 6, 2015, after weeks of delay into the investigations by the police and the prosecution, 18 accused security staff and 31 accused civilians were presented and the case was finally assigned to the bureau of internal and external security of Kabul District 3 Primary Court. At this trial, four civilians: Zayn-ul-Abedin, Mohammad Yaqub, Sharif Ullah and Abdul Bashir, were handed the severest punishment of the death penalty for their key role in the death of Farkhunda. Eight others were each sentenced to 16 years imprisonment, while the remaining accused persons were acquitted. Four members of the security forces who were each sentenced to a one-year prison term, have however been released without serving the full term. The absence of family members of Farkhunda or their lawyers when the courts announced these decisions constitutes a clear violation of Article 207 of the Afghanistan Criminal Code.
Another clear flag that was raised by the Human Rights Commission, the Fact-finding Commission, and the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association is how quickly a decision was reached – the judicial team composed of just three members reviewed a case of 1,800 pages in four working days and concluded. However, almost two years after the incident, a final definitive decision on the case has not yet been made
Furthermore, Appeal Court records from the judicial session of the bureau of internal and external security crimes in Kabul, dated 30th June 2015 show how the sentences imposed by the Primary Court on the accused, including those who were served with the death penalty, were withdrawn or reduced, once again in violation of the law and with the absence of the family of Farkhunda and their defense lawyers.
Another concern with the conduct of the Appeals Court is that they didn’t issue any notification to the parties about the change of charge sheet for the accused persons or the opportunity to react. For example, the charge for the accused police personnel was changed from “non-use of functional competencies” to “neglect of duty” with regard to Article 43 of the Military Criminal Law.
The decision of the appellate court in acquitting all the accused security personnel, as well as in reducing the sentences of the civilians violates every provision of Article 395 of the country’s Penal Code. Despite these weaknesses, Farkhunda’s case was assigned to the Supreme Court in March 2016. Repeated attempt by PAYK to speak to members of the Supreme Court about the case, were not successful. The only response was from Abdul Basir Mustaghfer, head of Administrative department of the Judiciary who said, ”the Chief Justice has asked us not to talk on this issue”


The final court ruling was held in Kabul in March 2016 without the presence of the defense lawyers and family members of Farkhunda. After the final decision of the Supreme Court on the 11 accused civilians who are now in prison, the case was sent back to the Appellate Court for clarifications on a number of issues including on the charge sheets of some of the accused, as well as prosecution of some accused persons who have since escaped (the country). However, after a review and uncertain performance by both the Appellate Court and the AG’s office, the case was sent back to Supreme Court three months ago, and till date, their has been no final decision from them.NAJLA
Najla Rahel, the defense lawyer of Farkhunda’s family expressed concern and disappointment about the conduct of all three courts where “The decisions of both the primary and the Appeals Court were made without the presence of my clients, and the Supreme Court also denied the right of participation of the defense lawyers and the family during the hearings, and did not respond to our complaints regarding these.” While there is little explanation on the part of officials for the lapses and shortcomings of the judicial process, there are many who believe that the process was disproportionately influenced by publicSpozhmai Wardak – and official – misguided notions of the practice of Islam and what the behaviour of women should be. Spozhmai Wardak, the Deputy Minister of Women’s Affairs, admits “despite all the advancements in women’s participation, freedom and civil rights in this country, patriarchy and misogyny are still so entrenched as evidenced by their role in not allowing justice for Farkhunda.
The Human Rights Independent Commission and Afghan Independent Bar Association are of the view that the high profile of this case on the judiciary put pressure on the State to accelerate the process for at least 49 cases of those who accused to be involved in Farkhunda’s murder. However, it appears that the initial momentum to get these cleared has not been kept up. The Farkhunda case, meanwhile, is seen as a controversial one that no one will talk to the media about.3
Shahla Farid
Documents have been examined in this report show that police, prosecutors, forensic, and courts dealing with cases of Farkhunda’s murder have violated the laws of the Afghanistan repeatedly. As as result of which the justice has been sacrificed. Now, they deal with the case as a controversial case and refuse to cooperate with the media. Thus, the truth is hidden from public view and violations of the law by the institutions remain unexplored.
Ad-hoc and political dealings with justice are shocking, the judicial institutions of the country were ready to respond and provide information in this regard until they were under pressure of public opinion, but now without having legal reasons, have refused to give any information and or information are censored.
Perhaps Farkhunda is one of the hundreds and even thousands of victims, who was brutally murdered and so far two years after her death some of those who were involved in the crime, managed to escape from the hands of justice. While Farkhunda’s issue was a matter of great concern and was covered by the media; it was investigated unfairly, it is not clear what happens to those cases that are not covered by the media.
Summary findings of the report:
Forensic failed to recognize the leading cause of Farkhunda’s death;
From 18 military and 31 arrested civilians accused of Farkhunda’s death, only 11 civilians are in the prison and others are released or have escaped without a final decision of the Supreme Court;
No military individual (police) accused in this death incident, have punished;
After almost two years of Farkhunda’s murder, the final verdict of the case, yet to be announced;
The government has sent the family of Farkhunda to Tajikistan because of threats against their lives;
Some officials of police, attorney office, and courts are guilty of misuse of their functional authority in connection with the Farkhunda’s murder cases.
The main reason for the systematic failure of the judicial institutions in the implementation of the law was this presumption that apparently Farkhunda has set the Holy Qur’an ablaze; this mindset has influenced all the police, forensic, prosecutors, and the courts.
This case is dealt with a political approach, initially under the pressure of public opinion the case was investigated with an unprecedented speed, but after the pressure of public opinion reduced, justice was forgotten.