In a statement today, Ikram Afzali, Chief Executive of Integrity Watch Afghanistan, and Stephen Carter, Afghanistan Campaign Leader of Global Witness, said:
“On world anti-corruption day we are speaking out to express our deep concern over the vote against confirming the Acting Minister of Mines and Petroleum, Ms. Nargis Nehan on December 4, 2017. The Afghan parliament has failed to take into account the extreme urgency of reforming Afghanistan’s extractives sector. These reforms had finally started to gain momentum under Ms. Nehan and her team.
“Since the start of the National Unity Government over two and a half years ago the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has been led by four different acting ministers, and has had a confirmed Minister for a total of just 12 months. Parliamentary and Presidential elections are approaching. Given the time that would be needed to appoint a new Minister and for them to become effective, the vote not to appoint Ms Nehan risks delaying by several years reforms which were already long overdue. This is a delay which will only encourage the continued corruption of the sector, the further strengthening of armed groups and the insurgency, and the further suffering of the Afghan people.
“For years, weak leadership in the Ministry has resulted in continued illegal extraction on a massive scale, the mismanagement of hundreds of mining contracts, and massive loss of State revenues that should be benefitting the Afghan people. Mining is the second largest source of funding for the Taliban and supports many other armed groups and criminal networks, fueling violence.and robbing Afghans of money that should be being spent on public services like education and healthcare.
“During her acting tenure, Ms. Nehan has taken key actions towards desperately needed reform, including publishing hundreds of mining contracts; which is a major step forward for transparency. We are unaware of any issues which could justify the vote against her. We also note with concern that Ms. Nehan, the only female ministerial candidate amongst the 12 who were presented to Parliament, was the only one rejected.
Integrity Watch Afghanistan and Global Witness do not take any political stance for or against the government, or any individual within it. But with its vote, Parliament has responded to the massive theft of the resources of the Afghan people by endorsing continued delays and inaction. We urge them to consider their responsibilities.”
Notes to editor:
- Global Witness and Integrity Watch Afghanistan are independent civil society organisations which have worked for decades on the problems of conflict and corruption around natural resources. For more details, see www.iwaweb.org and www.globalwitness.org.
- Previous Global Witness work exposing the role of powerbrokers and illegal armed groups in Afghan mining, notably around lapis lazuli, can be found here: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/afghanistan/
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