By Abubakarr Turay
Since the passage of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2003, the world has been observing the International Anti-Corruption (IAC) Day on December 9 every year to heighten awareness raising programmes on issues of corruption. The day also seeks to bring governments’ attention to give more support (political, financial, or otherwise) to anti-graft agencies to be more effective in fighting the scourge and promote the values of transparency, accountability and integrity in both the public and private sectors.
The theme for this year’s observance is ‘Break the chain of corruption’. The world recognises the fact that corruption hinders employment, healthcare delivery, peace and security and all other development indicators contained in the Millennium Development Goals. According to the United Nations “the 2015 joint international campaign focuses on how corruption undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to human rights violations, distorts markets, erodes quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.”The UN is also cognizant of the fact that corruption can affect the national development of both rich and poor nations. This is why it calls on member nations to take more robust measures to fight state graft, be it grand or petty. It also wants organisations and individuals across the world to take steps in ending the corruption chain for the betterment of the communities they find themselves.
Sierra Leone, through the ACC, has been putting tangible measures in recent past in a bid to curb corruption, especially in the public sector. Some of these measures include capacitating the work of the Audit Service and strengthening of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The ACC, which now has prosecutorial powers, has been waging a robust fight against corruption through public education, systems review and prosecution. The public education drive has helped people to be aware of issues of transparency and accountability, making such issues topical in public discourse. The systems review of government ministries, departments and agencies has helped strengthen government institutions resulting in improved service delivery and revenue generation in public corporations. On the law enforcement side, the Commission has been prosecuting individuals for various offences under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. This has made the sledge hammer of the law hit both the tigers (those who commit grand corruption) and flies (those who commit petty corruption) of our society, as was shown with the one hundred percent conviction rate the Commission secured in all its cases last year.
The ACC is at the fore in observing the IAC Day and has been observing this yearly event with host of activities geared towards raising more awareness on the ills of corruption and the need for a corrupt-free society. This year’s activities will include a quiz competition among secondary school pupils, public lecture, press conference, thanksgiving services (Muslim and Christian), a jogging exercise with Eastern Best Joggers and series of radio and television programmes. The celebration will be climaxed by a statement by the ACC Commissioner Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, and the National Integrity Awards. The objective of the latter is to recognise, celebrate and showcase citizens with proven conspicuous probity who have contributed immensely to the development of the country. These individuals can be either from the public or private sector. The Commission hopes that these heightened awareness raising activities will continue to bring more attention to issues of corruption, a means of combating the scourge in our society.