10 Years and $1B Later, Little Progress in Establishing Rule of Law in Afghanistan

The oversight agency for Afghan reconstruction reports that the attempt by U.S. government agencies to establish the rule of law and a basic justice system in Afghanistan has been unaccountable and largely unsuccessful.

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN:  TO GO WITH AFP STORY Afghan men (R) get Afghanis, the Afghan currency, from US dollars from money changers at an outside market in Kabul, 20 September 2004.  Three weeks ahead of Afghanistan's first presidential elections, governor of Afghanistan's central bank Anwar Ul-Haq Ahady said that whether front-runner President Hamid Karzai was re-elected or a new leader entered office the country would continue to build on the financial foundations he had laid down.    AFP PHOTO/ Shah Marai  (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

For over 10 years, U.S. government agencies have been attempting to establish the rule of law and a basic justice system in Afghanistan. But according to a newly released audit, the effort is an unaccountable, largely unsuccessful use of over $1 billion taxpayer dollars.

According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the push through more than 60 different programs to establish rule of law in the country has been “impaired.”

Overall, SIGAR noticed four major problems with the current programs, which it detailed in a 52-page report. The agencies lack a clear strategy; they don’t keep good track of the money they’re spending; there’s almost no way to measure success; and the Afghanistan government doesn’t seem particularly interested.

The rule of law is generally considered to require accountability, lack of corruption, transparency, fundamental rights, civil and criminal justice, and a functioning government.

Though SIGAR recognizes the difficulty in “achieving ideal or perfect program performance measurement in Afghanistan” considering problems with “security, mobility, illiteracy, and other challenges,” it concludes that the level of unaccountability inherent in these programs is unacceptable to taxpayers and Afghanistan’s citizens, who continue to suffer without access to the most basic legal rights.

“In Afghanistan, a country plagued by decades of conflict, access to fair, efficient, and transparent justice is limited,” reads the report.

Just last week, when SIGAR tried to generate a map of USAID’s health clinics in Afghanistan, the majority of them were in the wrong place. One of the clinics, according to the data USAID reportedly gave to SIGAR, was in the Mediterranean Sea.

SIGAR also routinely publishes reports on facilities and programs that have been a waste of money, including a command and control facility at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. According to SIGAR, the center is a $36 million waste that is unnecessary, unwanted, and unused.

(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)

Photo:  Afghan moneychangers (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty)

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