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Jun 3, 7:20 AM EDT

Afghan anti-corruption body assails nepotism in government

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An independent Afghan anti-corruption body lashed out at the government on Wednesday, saying that nepotism plays a critical role in getting a job as a diplomat in the country's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

According to a new report by the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, favoritism and patronage often prevail over merit and ability in diplomatic appointments.

Such practices undermine constitutional guarantees of equality for all Afghan citizens, said the committee's executive director, Ahmad Rashed Behroz.

Afghan officials and others with power prefer to appoint relatives to job openings, Behroz said, adding that 48 candidates passed tests for jobs at the ministry last year, but all were overlooked in favor of people who did not sit any test.

"The practice has become a major concern" Behroz said.

Also, dozens of foreign ministry employees - once they do go on missions with embassies and consulates abroad - never return home to Afghanistan, he said. They prefer to stay outside the country, either living as ex-patriates or they use their connections with powerful government people to get one posting after another abroad, added Behroz.

The report also listed 23 foreign ministry employees who are close relatives of current or former lawmakers, ministers or other ministry officials, as well as eight diplomats, including an ambassador, with ties to the top echelons of the previous administration.

Afghanistan is regularly named as one of the world's most corrupt countries by the watchdog Transparency International.

The report by the same committee also assailed a 119 call center with the police department that Afghan authorities set up in 2007, for citizens to report any indication of corruption or official misconduct they encounter. The call center must report and follow up the citizen complaints to the country's anti-corruption and anti- bribery directorate.

But the report declared the enterprise a "complete failure," saying that in 2014 out of more than 2,000 complaints reported referred by the call center to relevant authorities, only 907 were investigated. Of those, just nine were referred to the prosecutor's office but no judicial action ever took place.

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