• Corruption in Afghanistan's traffic police

Corruption in Afghanistan's traffic police

11 November 2013

Integrity Watch Afghanistan, an independent watchdog, finds that 59% of Afghan police checkpoints are committing road toll extortion. Published on 6 November, On Afghanistan’s Roads: Extortion and Abuse against Drivers (English, Dari) finds that Afghan drivers are forced to pay between 20-300 Afs (20p - £32) as illegal tax to Afghan traffic police.

Speaking at the launch event, Sayed Ikram Afzali, Director of Advocacy and Communication at Integrity Watch said, “The practice of extracting illegal tolls has become de facto 'institutionalized' to some extent.” The illegal extortion of road tolls is a form of parallel shadow taxation, which drivers and traders expect and prepare for, he added. 

While Afghan drivers face the possibility of encountering bandits and insurgents along their routes, the report's findings suggest that security might not be the primary reason for establishing police checkpoints.  Whilst insecurity is a greater issue in the south of the country, almost double the amount of checkpoints have been established in the north.

In addition, corrupt practices have also been reported in the legal checkpoints established by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Works.  Lack of record keeping and receipts, over-charging and aggressive behaviour are some of the issues explored by the report.  The report found that illegal tolls being taken by police was common in 59% of checkpoints.  

Corruption, within the police and beyond, continues to be a problem in Afghanistan. Essential financial support from international donors and governments is threatened by such activities.  The government of Norway recently reduced its future funding to Afghanistan by 7%, citing concerns that the Afghan government is not doing enough to tackle corruption.  

As Afghanistan prepares to vote for a new President and government in April 2014, the proposed anti-corruption policies of Presidential nominees should be scrutinized by the Afghan people and international community alike.   

 

Integrity Watch Afghanistan is an Afghan civil society organisation established in 2006 which produces research for policy purposes and conducts aid monitoring.