Washington International Law Journal


Fahima Sirat


Transparency International's annual reports in recent years have put Afghanistan near the top of the list of corrupt countries. This paper explores how the Anti-Corruption Justice Centre (“ACJC”) – established in 2016 to prevent the loss of national assets, speed up the discovery, investigation, and judicial review of corruption cases, and observe international obligations – set about tackling the country’s endemic corruption. This paper then examines what happened to the ACJC after the fall of the Republic in August 2021 and the declaration of the Taliban Emirate. Lastly, this paper details the approach the Taliban Emirate has taken to the problem of corruption.

This paper draws on the unique insights of the author (a judge at the ACJC’s special corruption court until the fall of the Republic), with special attention to the ways in which key cases were brought to the court and adjudicated, under the Afghan Republic. For the period of the Taliban Emirate, the paper draws on interviews with prosecutors and other original research.

The findings indicate that, although the ACJC had weaknesses, it was relatively effective at adjudicating the cases brought before it and, had it had more time and continued to enjoy the moral and material support of the Afghan government, could have played a key role in an intensifying fight against corruption. By contrast, though many Afghans remembered the first Taliban regime as comparatively corruption-free, and though Taliban insurgents used public indignation at Republic officials’ blatant corruption as a recruiting draw, the current Taliban regime has closed down relevant institutions including ACJC, and turned a blind eye to the problem of corruption. The status of the laws addressing the subject is currently ambiguous and opaque. The future of the ACJC cases and the effort to combat corruption in Afghanistan is indeterminate.