CIVIL SOCIETY KEY TO ANTI-CORRUPTION SUCCESS IN MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

from Transparency International…

June 3, 2013

Transparency International calls today on anti-corruption agencies in the Middle East and North Africa region to collaborate closely and strengthen their ties with civil society in the regional struggle against corruption.

At the anti-corruption organization’s second regional roundtable, convened in Tunis on 30 May, representatives and experts from civil society and anti-corruption agencies across the region gathered to discuss how to promote anti-corruption policies through engagement of civil society at large.

They agreed that anti-corruption agencies need to be independent and well-resourced in order to deliver on citizens’ demands for an end to corruption. Having the power to investigate and prosecute cases of corruption can be necessary for agencies where obstacles remain to stopping the corrupt.

Anti-corruption agencies have sprung up in seven countries in the region over the past few years, with similar agencies planned in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar. Lawmakers, government leaders and officials should give newly developed anti-corruption agencies independence, necessary resources and political support to enable them to combat secret dealings, bribery and the abuse of power.

“Transparency International research has shown that the police and judiciary are considered among the most corrupt institutions across the globe,” said Christoph Wilcke, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Transparency International. “In these situations, independent anti-corruption agencies can advance accountability if they have the power to investigate and prosecute cases of alleged corruption.”

Participants formulated several recommendations that governments should apply and civil society must monitor. These include:

  1. Collaborating with civil society in the development and implementation of national anti-corruption strategies and plans.
  2. Ensuring independence of anti-corruption agencies from undue interference.
  3. Creating specialised units for prosecuting corruption cases, including within anti-corruption agencies where appropriate.
  4. Passing and effectively implementing access to information laws across the region to enable citizens to hold officials to account.

“Policymakers and civil society organisations assessed how to work together in strengthening the role of anti-corruption agencies,” added Wilcke. “With agencies only recently, or yet to be established, now is the moment to learn from global experience that without a civil society role in formulating and implementing anticorruption activities, and defending the independence of the agencies, their success will be limited.”

By working together with civil society, new and existing anti-corruption agencies can move from political promises to ending to corruption at all levels of government and business.

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