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Anti-graft drive: Media-civil society cooperation stressed

Anti-graft drive: Media-civil society cooperation stressed

Jul 16, 2017 - 16:50

KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News, like six other organisations, worked together with Democracy International (DI) to keep a watch on activities of government institutions providing public services.

Pajhwok Director and Editor-in-Chief Danish Karokhel, addressing a conference on civic accountability and public services in Kabul on Sunday, said the purpose of the projects was to highlight growing graft in government institutions.

Highlighting the lengthy process of access to public services, disseminating information and enhancing public awareness about corruption in government departments were among the project objectives.

Karokhel said facilitating access to an information roadmap for civil societies, releasing news reports about the scourge of corruption and preparing documentaries on the lingering issue for illiterate people were the other objectives.

The DI project, implemented by seven organisation, exposed flaws and negative areas of government institutions, shared viewpoints and suggested solutions to the problem, added Karokhel, a senior journalist.

He viewed civil society organisations’ role as essential in strengthening reforms in the government. He asked civil society to closely observe the process, not to allow any illegal action and raise their voices when the government dithered on reforms.

For achieving the purpose, he explained, there was a need for access to information so that civil society could raise its voice for an end to corruption. Accurate information was needed to mount pressure on the government in the interest of the people, he argued.

Karokhel urged civil society organisations to share information about the government’s wrong attitude and illegal policies in time with the media. It was media responsibility to inform the people regarding the government’s illegal steps, he remarked.

The Pajhwok director believed civil society’s coordination with media was vital, having huge advantages on certain occasions. Thought media, civil society could reach out to a huge number of people who could benefit from the information. In this way, he said, powerful individual might be pressurised.

Another important task of the media was to enhance public awareness, he said, urging news outlets to educate the people on democratic ideals -- a fundamental right of the people. The media provides a platform for general dialogue, observation, scrutiny on key public interest issues.

Democracy International (DI)-Afghanistan, a research-based anti-corruption project, successfully culminated with the national conference on its goals and achievements on June 30, a statement from the organisation said.

The project was implemented through research reports and its purpose was to highlight corruption within the government machinery. The objective was to inform the Afghan community and international stakeholders about corruption though the provision of research reports.

Corruption in Afghanistan is perhaps the biggest national security threat faced by Afghans; media and civil society have not been able to provide effective and efficient services to the citizens, despite their diligent efforts. While security threats are alarming, the invisible destructive power of corruption affected the lives of millions.

Research reports focused on government services such as getting licences for small businesses, 12th class certificates, identity cards, tax payments, land-related documents and attestation of papers at foreign ministry,

Rampant corruption was seen in the processes, according to the reports, which specifically highlighted the situation in Kabul, Herat and Nangarhar provinces.

Each report contained numbers, figures and cases of corruption, providing information from various angles, including the victims, government officials and the departments responsible for improper services to the public.

Research reports have been published on the main website of Pajhwok, which then surfaced in other sources such as news websites and print media, audios and videos. Over a million users of Pajhwok’s Facebook page also benefited from the reports.

In addition to research reports on the anti-corruption drive, Pajhwok published articles of prominent authors on corruption, highlighting multiple problems faced by people in getting government services.

Short documentaries, images and sounds of relevant sources were part of the project aimed at raising awareness among the people about corruption. Video images were captured from proceedings of government services in health, education, business, land distribution and other areas.

At the conference, once again, a round table will be followed up on the achievements of civil society organisations in the fight against corruption and the struggle to promote accountability of different publications.